Home Around Town Life as performance art
Life as performance art

Life as performance art


By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

We’ve been stuck for most of the last quarter-century in Cyberia. Yes, I spelled it correctly. Cyberia (as opposed to the northern regions of Russia) refers to our reliance on social media, somewhere and somehow connected to cyberspace.

I’m not certain just where cyberspace is located, nor interested in learning. Nor if I just coined a new phrase or read it somewhere.

Those of us of a certain age still have fading memories of what it was like before we found ourselves with a one-way ticket to Cyberia. We went to the library and could find what we wanted in the reference section and/or card catalogs. If that didn’t work, a librarian probably had the answer.

We learned penmanship so we could write thank-you letters. We learned our way around typewriters, and how to line up two sheets of paper with a slip of carbon paper in between.

Once we arrived in Cyberia, the card catalogs were replaced by computers. They fed us information and let us know if requested books were still in the library. Reference sections began to vanish and librarians no longer had the opportunity to become the fountains of information.

As for learning how to write with a pen or pencil, it’s becoming a thing of the past. A generation or two has grown up never getting carbon dust on their fingers. Why should they when they can keyboard a message, then hit forward all?

As for news, we would listen to a smattering of it on the radio, or perhaps at night for a half hour on television, without all the pharmaceutical commercials. Or we’d wait for the newspaper, especially thick Sunday sections. If something important was happening in the world, we’d read about it then. If something really big happened, someone would tell us.

While we languish, Cyberia fills us with endless stories about D-list actors or actresses who said, did, or wore something someone else thought was controversial. They posted their message on social media and everyone else felt compelled to chime in.

Before Cyberia, most of us thought the Kardashians were alien space creatures who turned up on “Star Trek.” That might have been only half-right. Now, we live in Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) or Fear Of Falling Behind (FOFB), so the directorate of Cyberia — like the thugs running the Siberian gulags — have found ingenious ways to make us dependent on them.

There are rays of hope when I talk with someone who escapes now and then from Cyberia. A grandmother told me she got frustrated spending time with the “grands” because they were too busy with their social media to have time to talk or play games. She found a wonderful way to outflank them: she turned off the wi-fi. In no time, they were hurrying, eager to talk.

I’d write more about this, but I have a deadline to get this story to The Commercial Record. Before Cyberia I’d take the paper out of the Adler, fold it in three parts, put it in an envelope and deliver it. Sorry, no time for that. I have to push the save, then send buttons to shift these 600-plus words up to a satellite or two, bounce it around the earth, and deliver it — four blocks from here.