I believe we are living in a time of great wonder. On trying to capture this sentiment, I have been trying and failing to write a story, one I may never finish, but I felt the inspiration behind this journey is worth sharing.
Chat Histories is a digital love story set in two continents and features a precocious red-lipped actress, careerist millennial, and a Baptist daughter from the American South. I met two, slept with one, kissed the other, and became fictionalised by another.
What started off as a throwaway message on my smartphone at Luton Airport blossomed into a series of remarkable stories – a collection of romantic illusions only made possible by new technology. The virtual world of chat is a logged history of friendship you never intended to write.
From defying time and space in Grand Central Station to serendipitously becoming a theatre character in Cambridge, I can only marvel at the untold possibilities of underwater cables.
On trying to capture the essence of virtual consciousness, I have been wrestling with potential storylines for some time now. Alas my fear, or inability, to write compelling dialogue has prevented me from moving beyond this blog. In truth I don’t even know where to start. Without a proper storyline you can get lost in a picturesque maze.
When writing in the cloud, I feel wittier, sharper and more gregarious than I might appear otherwise. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a better person online than IRL.
Some would argue we’re all more virtuous and smarter on social media anyway. Greater peer recognition gives us a dopamine rush, we don’t usually receive in our everyday lives. The dichotomy of real and online lives has always fascinated me, especially as the great unborn (with their foetus scans on Facebook) won’t be able to tell the difference.
And what we are experiencing now is going to be romanticised for centuries to come; a first-time generational experience like when Kerouac travelled incredible distances in the early 1950’s.
What Kerouac et al went through can never be repeated in the purest sense. All counter-culture movements, often through no fault of their own, become a pastiche of themselves in future years.
Like the Beats accelerating across a vast continent at great speeds, our newly wired world has been transformed beyond recognition. Chat Histories is my failed attempt to capture the magic of the virtual world. An unwritten tale about an ordinary life transformed by our fresh ability to write and share instantaneously.
Our constant flicker might seem surreal and highly narcissistic in years to come, but it’s happening and you only get one chance. Meanwhile my story may never be published but I compose tweets and messages everyday in hope of finding something better.
There are pitfalls of course, but would we ever want to go back?