A brief thought on the miracle of togetherness

09.16, Wednesday 22 Sep 2021

It’s a miracle that we can feel togetherness over the internet. I thought it was a miracle when I got my first modem in 1994, and I think the same today.

This collection of machines is transparent to human presence! Like the air is transparent to light.

There’s no necessary reason why human presence transmits through electricity and silicon. Books carry thought and stories and they are incredible in their own way, and we give the written word its deserved credit. Radio broadcasts feel live but in only one direction.

The internet creates new architectures that the brain feels as space yet don’t exist. The nuances of phatic communication, presentation of self, shared emotions, and community are somehow translated, sent, and received in some mysterious social synaesthesia of digital impulses.

This electronic telepathy works so well that we barely notice it, let alone question it.

I include in this our non-human co-occupiers of the world (existing and new), and the varied ways of configuring individual and group identities.

I find the parameters and boundaries of togetherness endlessly fascinating.

And surprising.

Its huge variety through cultures and history; the way the internet continues and inflects it; how togetherness on the internet can (and should) be better.

I think that the exploration has been a thread through my whole career. This particular magic is not the most important thing ever, to everyone, but to me it seems like I’ve always been circling it. And it’s good to put a finger on that fact, even though it probably seems obvious to everyone else, because I can use togetherness (its exploration, boundaries, landscape, and potentialities) as a structuring principle for whatever I think about next.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it by email or on social media. Here’s the link. Thanks, —Matt.