“It’s all about YOU.” A voice screeches.
I look up to see the metal magpie sitting on the fibres of the internet. The blue glow of his mechanical eyes blink slowly as they glare down at me.
“Er yes?” I say.
The bird raises his wings, the intricate clicks of a dozen metallic feathers moving into place and with a single beat lifts high away from the lines. The smooth metal on his chest glints as he puffs up his chest and screeches again.
“You!” Before swooping down in a smooth arc, straight at me.
I duck too late and feel a sharp tug of my tunic as claws rip a strip of cloth from my shoulder. I turn to grab at the flapping end of cloth and for a moment I feel the satisfactory weight of the bird through my clenched fist, before he pulls me from my feet.
I clasp my other hand over my fist, just in time to feel the beat of air from the wings above me once, twice, and then I’m up in the air.
Up, up, he pulls me and I close my eyes, not wanting to see the lands of the web fall away below me. The steady beat of the wings fills my ears with an assured rhythm. I calm myself by trying to match each breath I take to this rhythm. In and out, in and out, till I can no longer feel my arms holding on or my feet dangling below.
When I open my eyes, I am standing in a nest piled high on every side with the pages, photos and posts all published by me on the web. They are weaved into the walls of the nest amongst the bright shards of the bird’s shiny feathers.
The internet is full of these nests, a devoted shrine to all the things each of us offers out to the web. But why do we do this?
There’s never been a time or place where it was so easy to award a piece of click-admiration or affirmation at our friends or strangers. We can collect the views, followers, likes, shares and even friends across the myriad of platforms designed with this purpose in mind. We build up these digital worlds centered around ourselves, until some are starting to point a finger to proclaim there’s a problem.
Our ability tailor the Internet experience to our every need is making us more narcissistic…This shift from e- to i- in prefixing Internet URLs and naming electronic gadgets and apps parallels the rise of the self-absorbed online Narcissus
Or worse pointing to an entire generation’s malaise and spread across the online world.
The truth is the rise in narcissism among millennials may have less to do with our social networks online and more to do with our social networks at home.
There are other voices of doubt questioning these claims, but I can’t help but now wonder if I embarked on this internet adventure to feed my own inflated ego. To build up an online audience and hide behind the shallow interactions of a ‘you internet’.
“Is that what I’m doing here?” I say out loud and turn my head to seek out the magpie, who brought me here.
As I turn my head, the light catches on a shard of metal and I blink to focus on the pair of blue flickering eyes. Once, twice and now I see, my own beak and steady gaze reflected back at me.