The Search for Fireflies is Over - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Search for Fireflies is Over

The Search for Fireflies is Over

Published March 10, 2017

Photo by
Lord Jim/Creative Commons

Everything is faster than it used to be, more efficient, more convenient, digitized. This is obvious. The pizza, the love, the taxi, the conversation with your ex about your old Reeboks in her apartment. The pictures, the empty sex, the liberal talk shows, full of fake laughs and smart jokes that make you fall in love with your lack of power and influence. The shopping, the news of global horror and human chaos. The dick pics, the podcasts, the music. It’s all right there in your hand and you shouldn’t doubt it. If you do, you doubt the very concept of progress. You will not save the world. It’s not your role and never was. Technology will. Data will. Systems will.

Pictures of Mubarak doing time with shades on. That’s so interesting, what’s your thesis about? A video of a beheading and the knife is old. Didn’t I see you at Kaffibarinn last weekend? Reveries, fears, pornsites. Read any Camus?️️ Love the guy.

What is the currency we pay for these blessings? All those pictures of the good life, the infinite music in our ears, all this love in the palm of our hands. I suspect it might be meaning. The smartphone is gradually removing the element of ritual from our lives and rituals have always been what gives daily life meaning. Love meant something entirely different when it was about getting drunk in a bar and looking for fire in someone else’s eyes. The search for fireflies is over. Now love is something found via images and words online. Does it matter how love begins? Of course. Details and foundations matter.

We don’t write love letters anymore—most people find them corny—but we probably should, because writing by hand brings a physical dimension to the message. It has a history to it and there’s a reason why people have done it for thousands of years. Repetition is the filter of history. The love email (although ‘You Got Mail’ is admittedly a great movie and “Email My Heart” by Britney Spears is a personal favorite) and love Facebook message lack this element. The letter will stay, other mediums disappear, and if you want to say something important, you should probably go for the resilient and beautiful medium of the good old letter.

With great power comes great lack of meaning, Uncle Ben should have said to Peter Parker, and turned him into an existential superhero. This is today’s big dilemma. When there’s no effort, there’s no meaning. You remove the rituals of daily life, all the effort that makes different activities unique—even small things like hailing a taxi—and you take away their meaning as well. We live in deeply philosophical times. Why does Facebook seem to make everybody sad? It’s not because of all the fake shit, all the cheap talk, the naked despair and confusion of others. It’s because when you sign in you understand on a bodily level that what you’re doing is sucking all meaning from your existence. And that this will kill you.

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