An Ocean of Digital Tears


Reincarnation without the Re

With the way information and change happens so quickly, I feel like I am living numerous lifetimes in one.

My parents lived in an age where they learned one system and it stayed constant. My father went to the same office for forty years, and he sat next to people who were there just as long or longer. Can you imagine knowing a co-worker for forty years? Or even five?

My resume reads like Gulliver's Travels, from photographer to creative director to teacher. And back again. In my head there is a square dance going on and I am constantly shifting partners; the hands and feet all moving at their own tempo while I watch from above in an out of body experience. When does it end?

How Did This Happen?

Am I the product of over achieving parents, or of a cultural environment that teaches that hard work leads to success? I don't believe so, although my parents are both successful in their fields, I was a slacker growing up, they were too busy to push me because they were pulling the family ahead.

I am the product of the times we live in. Governments have fallen, dictators pulled and pushed from their towers, industries have evaporated like the steam from an engine, the ticker tape has gone the way of keystrokes and technology has created ways for the poorest to communicate and the richest to cash in on their whispered words of love and banality. In my lifetime, I have seen the phone come off the wall and into my pocket, the wall fall into pieces, our country in a decade long war, and the beginnings of the war on corporations.

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The Diary

What has changed the most for me is the way we record our history. As a thirteen year old, I would scribble in my Diary and paste photos of my latest pop star crushes next to words that to me was sheer poetry. Now we punch in words everyday into our Facebooks, Twitters, Friendfeeds, Tumblrs, and blogs. We text "What are you doing?" to our friends and follow up with "I am having a latte." Careers have imploded because of our need to share, not understanding that at the core of the human heart is the need to share.

And the Diary is no longer hidden in that drawer under the socks, it is now a Google search away, your life is now an open book with no copyright.

One of my favorite films is Blade Runner, the last words from Batty the replicant was:
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die. "

When I first heard that, I thought "how true, how true". Now I see it as a part of the past, before Facebook and Flickr. We will never have lost moments ever again because our lives will live on in our own personal Cloud. Those tears now add to an ocean of digital memories for all to sail on.

Image: Ophelia Chong

Artist, designer and teacher Ophelia Chong explores her adopted city of Los Angeles with an eye and ear for the small moments that tests the duality of being an Asian American. Join her on her journey every Thursday on KCET's SoCal blog.

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