Dear baby,

Over the past month, I’ve taken time to sit down with people and talk about you, about us. Joey, my roommate, who doesn’t have a relationship with you told me that they feel like there’s a part of them that is erased or non-existent precisely because of it. A similar sentiment is echoed by the author Jia Tolentino in the first essay from her collection Trick Mirror, titled “The I in Internet.” Tolentino writes, “as more people began to register their existence digitally, a pastime turned into an imperative: you had to register yourself digitally to exist.”

I can’t help but wonder where it is that you exist and then where I do too. I’d prefer a world, I think, in which both myself and others weren’t defined by you. What might this kind of digital, technological utopia look like?

For now, I hope people who read about you understand the power you wield. I hope they understand how everything is commodified, and how everyone is tracked and observed with an eye towards profit and control. Connection is constant; we are overstimulated and oversaturated, even if we don’t see it that way. Software—in many ways a rather abstract technological human development—is dangerous. It comes with consequences.

I wish you could be more gentle and I wish I could be more careful. For now we’re stuck with each other, so I’ll ask: how shall we proceed?

Thank you to RAKE Community and the RAKE Collective Team for hosting me as the August 2021 Practitioner-in-Residence. I enjoyed the weekly experiment of critiquing Instagram on Instagram’s own platform. The research has proven generative and I’m excited to see how this work will continue to develop.

xo @mermorran

Index of Sources:

Hu, Tung-Hui. A Prehistory of the Cloud. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2015.

Lanier, Jaron. Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. New York: Picador2018.

Orlowski, J. The Social Dilemma. Film, 2020.

Shalini, Kantayya. Coded Bias. Film, 2020.

Tolentino, Jia. Trick Mirror : Reflections on Self-Delusion. First edition. New York: Random House, 2019. Print.