And here is the twitter of one John Johnston:
There was a wry smile on my face on the morning of the 16th June 2011 as images from the riots that engulfed Vancouver, Canada showed up from various sources. While the rest of the world protests against cuts, austerity measures and political oppression, the Canadians frustration emanated from losing an ice hockey game. This post isn’t about the Canadian view of the world however, it’s about you, me and a relatively new force in our lives.
Amongst the usual photos of fire, shattered glass twinkling under looter’s feet and people displaying signs of some primitiveness we pretend we, the human race, have managed to get away from, there was one image that stuck out. In the background the black mass of a baying mob ran from left to right, a wall of aggression and malice while in the foreground riot police stood with their shields up, batons ready. What made this image stick out though was what was in between the two sides. A man and woman, lying on the floor kissing with a tenderness and earnestness that leaves everyone with the thought that maybe true love does exist. A Hollywood ending if ever there was one.
Like everyone else I did ask questions about it; why were the two of them there? Did they know one another at all or was this another moment of primitiveness that the rioting brought upon humanity? But being the lazy cretin I am, I left it at that, safe in the ignorance of what my mind had conjured up as means of a story. I left these two to their moment. The only problem is that we no longer live in the age of anonymity.
The Internet has made many wonderful things possible (including this spiffing website) but one of its major drawbacks is the increasingly possessive attitude it has towards our lives. In the past seven years the Internet has helped create more data than there has been since the Dawn of humanity. With such a vast swamp of data it is easy for those in control of the data to hide, while people like the couple from the photo are exposed and forced to explain themselves. Instead of leaving them in this moment, the Internet created the conditions to track them down to 29 year old Australian Scott Jones and his Canadian girlfriend Alexandra Thomas, who were forced to explain a moment that can never truly be explained. On their appearance on NBC’s Today show, the only words Jones could offer were that the riots were ‘pretty scary for her [Thomas] and it seemed like the best thing to do.’ The Internet robbed a moment of it’s romance by demanding it be explained.
Scott Jones cannot be blamed for failing to find the words; with things like Facebook and LinkedIn we are all being made to revisit moments in time that needn’t be. Moments of happiness best left unanalysed, relationships that have come and gone - we’re being thwarted by moments that used to sit quietly in the attics of our minds. Everything is now checked and verified, moments of spontaneity lost to re-conditioned occurrences because we hold a photo on Facebook that worked the first time. What’s worse is that these moments are now being exposed to the new people in our lives who have no business analysing our collection of moments. For example, new relationships often hit a stumbling block when the issue of “the ex” comes up. How am I now supposed to navigate new relationships when my Facebook has a million and one reminders of the ex that I don’t want to delete? If everything about me is there online, what else is there left to give one another as a token of affection?
The bliss of ignorance is becoming all the more sweeter as we face the question of whether we learn to deal with the baggage handling of the past or shut ourselves off from connecting with one another. Which one will you choose?