Digital Ghosts

This post was inspired by Exam 4’s “Future Historians Probably Won’t Understand the Internet” and “Game After” readings.

Both of these readings suggest that decay is the price we pay for digital media’s convenience and fast-changing nature. Nevertheless, people are constantly trying to preserve aspects of our digital lives, whether through games or Twitter archives, but it’s ultimately like trying to hold on to sand slipping through our fingers. The eerie business of necromancy is how Raiford Guins refers to emulations in particular.

It’s interesting that in a society of spectacle, when we are completely deluged by images and information, our FOMO also translates into a pre-emptive FOMO for future people. In my opinion, it’s not really that we care what future historians will think, but its the fear that we ourselves will look back on this moment 10 or 20 years from now and not be able to “properly” remember it without documentation.

Yet there is also the reverse scenario, where you remember something crystal clear in your mind, but you go back to the documentation and the “reality” is profoundly disappointing. Like when you remember an old crush, but then find your text messages and see how incredibly lame they were. Or when you remember a really good game from your childhood and boot it back up again, only to be – once more – profoundly disappointed. Maybe other people find more meaning in reliving the past through “realistic” emulations, but for me the supposed record of the past very often falls short. In all the fairy tales, after all, communing with ghosts never ends well.

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