The worry is that the zeitgeist upon which so many social media-based communities are predicated exists almost exclusively online.
The experience of the disconnect is similar to a person watching, alone or maybe with one other, and from the comfort of their living room, a live concert and broadcast meant to unite people around the country during some crisis, only to step outside and look around and not find any of these people to whom they were supposedly united a moment ago, with whom they participated in a so-called national or even global event, like when Queen Elizabeth II gave a speech during the Coronavirus lockdown.
What they discover instead, in the moment after the televised event, is that what took place was an illusion of unity; a unity which can really only be found again once the television is flipped back on, and they are once more alone, on their sofa.
This sensation is the motivation for the natural or physical realm, in the digital age, slowly becoming a landscape one only strives to move through efficiently—and, sure, even in an eco-friendly way—so long as one does not have to persist long in the nebulous space which exists between the destinations of our nascent digital and information era.
To what ‘digital destinations’ does one scurry? To those which are born and start trending and attracting, and gain gravity and dimension, exclusively in digital space. For now, these are still being capitalized on with events that spill over into the physical world, but this will continue only so long as all the layers of experience cannot be replicated online, with less overhead cost. Even with this current lag in technology, they are still a new type of event which one is already attending: they continue taking place in the old world, where the bodies that are the products of nature linger, but one may soon realize what is so different about them, and it is the fact that the event was not inspired by—but is rather very much removed from—what they once understood to be their local community. In other words there is no grounded, natural cause for the event to be occurring, here, and at the scale which it appears to have: whatever weight and social significance this event possesses, which animates the crowd and has given them cause to congregate, one concludes it must have been brought to this location, while the magnitude of the event remains unaccounted for unless one admits it comes from that dimension unperceived, unless accessed through a computer. Naturally, it is to this dimension which one now craves access, because ordinary local events cannot compete at the same scale of apparent social significance and magnitude of experience.
One looks around the crowd through which they’re weaving and wonders, ‘Do I know these people?’
No. Or, maybe you recognize that person over there, from somewhere online.
Eventually, the landscape between digital destinations will once again be greener and cleaner than it was when it was humanity’s main hub for community. It will be reclaimed by nature in all its brutal necessity, as intelligent life moves elsewhere, seeking what can reflect back its self conception: such reflection which the internet is becoming.