I had a dream, or perhaps it was a nightmare, a few nights ago. Not the sort of thing that causes lasting trouble. It was a murmur, barely enough to banish sleep. In this dream, it was shortly after noon and I was standing on a ridge overlooking a vast valley. The place was alive with that preternatural crispness only found in sleep. I felt a calm breeze with the scent of the sea just beyond the nearest mountain range. The place was clean; it was minimalist, symmetric, sensible and never ending. I felt pure. Then it felt like the sun was descending, except I could still see it hanging high staring me down with its bright orange and waves of violet in the spotless sky. I looked behind me and saw where the dark was coming from. It was a storm.
From my vantage point it seemed like a sandstorm, one of those dark and angry plague-like monstrosities from the deserts I love so much. I could hear the hiss of its parts rubbing against each other, approaching with improbable haste. As high and as far as the eye could see. It was impossibly wide, impossibly dark, impenetrable, and I couldn’t move. It came over me and I braced myself, half expecting the flesh to be stripped from my bones, but all I got was quiet. Through that silence, with every ounce of my body saturated with adrenaline, I stood, afraid to look up or even breathe. After what felt like an eternity I opened my eyes to an environment that wasn’t as dark as I had expected. Floating in the air were, in place of dust particles, the pieces of electronics. The air had taken on a fluid texture, every flinch causing a ripple in the silicon parts.
I turned around to look back over the ridge and saw that as far as the eye could see; everything was covered in that dark. Somehow, deep down inside me, I knew it had overrun the world. It was then that I felt the tremor beneath me. There was something moving toward me with purpose, somewhere behind me. I couldn’t budge, I couldn’t look back, I was petrified – pieces of me turning to stone, tendrils of gravel spreading through my veins, refusing to let me move. I fought it with all my will, but no sooner did I see bits of it crumble and fall from me, it would be replaced. Then the cause of the tremors burst from the ground, cables – hundreds of tendrils writhing out like the tentacles of some implacable beast, grabbing hold of me to keep me steady as one massive cable with a usb head rose like the tail of a scorpion and rammed into the back of my neck, severing pieces of bone and sending white-hot fire down my spine.
I could feel my body heat up and through my periphery vision; I could tell I was glowing. The pain was unimaginable, but any attempt to scream was stifled by the simple fact that I did not know how to. I felt pressure in my skull, like some heavy liquid were being poured into it and then I knew everything. My head was flooded with information; the entire world became a data point. Tweets, Facebook statuses, headlines, all became points of light, playthings for my scrambled sanity. With a thought I knew the weather in Hong Kong, the exact geographic coordinates of some celebrity I’d never cared to know, the entire history of a single car, the deepest secrets of some girl named Ashley in Madison, Wisconsin.
“I think hobo vagina is illegal in Ohio. Fish tacos are not.”
“omg, when I get home I am so going to blog about your new haircut.”
“Jason is listed as single”
“A car bomb detonated today in a market outside of Baghdad”
“GLOBAL MILITARY SPENDING REACHES NEW HIGH”
The noise was unimaginable, no voice could be silenced, no voice could be heard, and all voices could be heard. I knew everything; I was everywhere, I WAS THE ALL SEEING EYE AND ALL EYES WERE ON ME. I WAS THE ALL KNOWING! I SAW A THING AND ITS ENTIRE HISTORY WAS AS AN OPEN BOOK! I WAS… exhausted. I awoke to a blade of light in my eye, drenched in sweat, and felt suddenly small and blind and disconnected. But I couldn’t look at my laptop. I couldn’t bring myself to switch it on. I couldn’t bring myself to pick up my phone or my iPod Touch or my CR-48 or my Kindle or my TV. I couldn’t bring myself to it. It had finally happened. The ‘creep’ had finally caught up to me. I was too connected.
The creep is a steady encroachment that moves to surround you and is never really noticed until you’re caught in it. You see it with vines sometimes. You watch the vines crawl up trees and walls and it never seems that bad until one morning you look at your walls completely consumed. You stand there and wonder: how did we get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’? The same thing happens with a messy room. It starts with one shirt tossed on the chair; wallet not put away, shoes left out. Each time it seems like no big deal, a little thing to sort out, then one day you walk into your room and it’s a pigsty. That is fundamentally how creep works. Unlike a flood that is sudden and tumultuous, creep works slowly enough for you to adapt and get comfortable with. Unlike a flood, it can be predicted and you had plenty of opportunity to stop it. But you didn’t. You didn’t because you always had tomorrow to take care of it.