“If You Commit Internet Suicide Who Will Come To Your Funeral?”
‘Keys to reality’ written by Canadian legend Ken Achenbach and published in Transworld Snowboarding in 1992 is probably the most read piece of snowboard related fiction ever written. It was also Craig Kelly’s favorite. Below is my modernized version updated with today’s distractions, inspired and bitten directly from Ken’s original words, which you should read here first.
The year is 2012. No one uses keys anymore because lives are lead behind a computer screen. Individuals are introduced as their screen name handles. Alter egos become real. Technology is sucking the real out of ‘real life.’ People Twitter, FB, and Instagram constantly. When on the chairlift, while eating a meal surrounded by good company, and at even more in-opportune times. It’s gotten to the point where you have to self-govern your own words and actions because some narc will put you on Internet blast making private information overly public. Who needs enemies when you have 1000’s of fake friends? Many people are so busy documenting the moment they forget to actually be present in it.
Disclaimer: Yes, I recognize the irony of using social media myself, yet dissing people’s reliance on them, and then virally spreading this article via these same outlets. Whatever. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Read on, than check me out @SWAYZAR on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The column begins now…
It’s funny how you can go from walking around completely anonymous with nothing but an MP3 player in your jeans and being totally stoked, to cruising around, totally Internet famous, with pockets full of wirelessly connected electronics and being totally bummed.
It starts out simply and seductively. I’ll just create this one on-line profile so I can show off my enviable lifestyle that everyone should be jealous of. Wrong. Anything that shows off your make-believe life is a scam. It won’t let you snowboard more because you ride every day and on-line bragging can’t add days to the week.
“I’ll just pimp out this FaceBook page, so I can show sponsors what I’m up to and maybe pick-up some birds,” you hear yourself saying. There’s your first password. Then your Interneting and profile pic taking starts making you lose sleep, so you can’t snowboard as hard or as long as you used to. And you need witty day-to-day commentary to show-off your actions this very instant because everyone should care what you’re eating and about your ‘Fuck My Life’ moments. (2-min line up at Starbucks. OMG FML!!!). You need an outlet to RT all your cool new famous Internet friends, slag pop culture icons, and describe how epic your hangover is in a unique way. Now you have Twitter, that’s another password. Soon you acquire an Instagram account because you crave more ‘LIKES’ on the photos of the food you consume, the $$$ booze mixed with energy you guzzle, girls you’d never have the balls to talk to in real life, and your ugly pet. The passwords start adding up.
Now that you have multiple social media marketing platforms, girls you’ve never met know what you look like without a shirt on and how many extreme activities you rule at. You end up with a girlfriend. She demands you change your relationship status from ‘married to the board’ and hang with her instead of riding all the time. First, she gives you the password to her heart, and then – hesitantly – the password to her FaceBook account. That’s two more. You can’t give her the password to your heart because snowboarding put a digitally encrypted SSL lock on it and only your reverse camber 155 knows the combo.
Now you have more than a handful of passwords stored in your mind. They’re high-maintenance items these on-line personas are. You have to constantly nurture and take care of them. More images that will trick people into thinking you’re so busy doing cool things. More clever commentary about things you’re not even involved in. These social media outlets are weighing you down. Snowboarding and real life – not an imaginary one lived on a screen – is slowly slipping away and you don’t even notice. Party shots. Food shots. Self-portrait pouty lip shots. Stale commentary. Your thirst for ‘LIKES’ borders on addiction.
One day, locked in your bedroom playing on-line poker, the only job that gave 24/7 access to the Internet thereby allowing adequate time for your networking, you see one final Tweet from a guy who had just traded in his laptop and iPhone for a new snowboard and a seasons pass – Internet suicide in its finest form.
While scrolling the Twitterfeed you start thinking about that guy. Was he even following you? Wait, that doesn’t matter. He lived like you used to – snowboard and nothing else. Before the self-promotional blogs, the name dropping tweets, and the jealousy inducing photos that had originated as a way to show off your snowboard-centric lifestyle to potential sponsors got in the way of living a real life.
As you shut your laptop for the first time in 3 days, you can’t get that Twitter post out of your brain. Your mind keeps wandering back. Envisioning all the passwords that were the keys to your fake persona and cyber swirling them around, you think about what you really want from life.
Opening back up your laptop, you log into your accounts and prepare to pull the e-brake in the middle of the information super highway. First to go is the password to your seldom used, but once helpful, Snowboard.com profile. Trashcan. Then you backhand Cincinnati your MySpace password straight into cybercity. Trashcan. There goes the password to your Friendster, then the password to Instagram. Trashcan, trashcan, trashcan. You feel better each time a password permanently deletes out of your hard drive and hurtles through the world wide web faster than the speed of light. You don’t even slow for the spinning beach ball of death, instead ‘command-option-esc’ing and Force Quitting that bitch.
You only have two passwords left. You log-in to Twitter and use the allotted 140 characters to claim your Internet death by suicide to your thousands of fake friends and post your FaceBook password as a status update for the Net to have its way with. You leave that last password just floating in cyberspace. Whoever logs-in first can hi-jack your profile and post whatever nasty stuff they like. You don’t need it anymore. You’re gonna live a real life full of real snowboard sessions with real ‘real life’ friends. You get back on Twitter and start surfing through old updates trying to find that motivational tweet and who the tortured genius behind it was.
It’s still there. You slam an index finger down on the Twitter users profile. When the information loads, you read the ‘About’ description and look at the profile pic. It’s you. It’s the life you left behind when you started checking your iPhone every 5 minutes and stopped living in reality.