Day 1 of Watching “The Network Effect”
70 degrees, Friday afternoon. I’m sitting outside on my deck feeling particularly relaxed. I decide check out The Network Effect. Upon clicking, the website opens to full-screen mode on my laptop. (I decide against the site’s suggestion to use headphones.) There’s a slight glare from the sun and I can’t decide if that’s why it hard to focus or not, so I shift my seat. It’s a little better but I still find myself squinting. Immediately, the clock starts counting down. I think, “ Seven minutes? That seems like a pretty long time.” I can feel my eyes following the endless scroll of pictures up and down. The pace is too fast for me. I’m uncomfortable. A little nauseous. I find that the sound of the heartbeat coming from the site is slower than the pace of my own. Everything’s “off.” I try to follow each image. There a note at the bottom saying something like based on my coordinates I have been allotted 7 some-odd minutes based on my life span…etc. I feel watched. After about a minute, I move my finger on the mouse pad. Things happen. Words appear on the screen. Things blur. I stop. I examine the screen more closely and notice an arrow in the bottom right-hand side. “Oooh something else to look at.” I click and realize it’s just a button to share the link to the site with any one of the various social media outlets. I go back and click on the bottom left corner, a simple “question mark,” which leads me to an informational page. I read it all. It feels like a nice break from the pace of the other page. The clock is still going, I notice. “Oh no.” I return to the moving montage. I’m shocked to find that there are only 3 minutes left. “What have I done?” I know that I have to wait not only until tomorrow but 24 hours until I can view again. “But tomorrow’s Saturday.” I have mixed emotions. I continue watching. As it nears the end of the counter my heart rate quickens. I am semi-prepared for the end screen because I’ve read the informational page. It comes. Blue sky. White clouds. And the words: Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
-Carl Jung. I sit and wait for more. A bell tolls. It eerily reminds me of my childhood memories of being in church, particularly, that moment when the priest turns the bread into the body of Christ. It continues…and I am freaked out.
I have been hypnotized.
If The Network Effect is chaos, then Astronaut is order.
I imagined The Network Effect as being some kind of futuristic sci-fi video/brochure made for other life forms to better understand what life on earth is like. The thought made me cringe. However, after viewing Astronaut, I had the same odd thought, but with much more positive feeling associated. It was a glimpse into life on earth. I was cracking up at each video, even when there was nothing funny was going on. Every scene (almost) was laced with ordinary, regular, everyday activities. And just enough of each one was revealed. I felt the opposite of anxious while watching. I felt as though at any moment an image of myself cooking dinner was going to appear on the screen. It would have made perfect sense. The only eerie thing about it was that it had me thinking about that “eye in the sky,” as though at any moment a picture of me cooking dinner could pop up on the screen. I mean, after all, do these people realize their videos have been fed into the site by some algorithm? Could my image pop up on the screen at any moment??!!??
Day 2- Network Effect Experience
I think I was watching it “wrong.” This time, I explored and clicked around. Part of this experienced felt the way I imagine an addict to feel. I couldn’t look away. Couldn’t stop clicking around. The more I clicked the faster things seemed to go. If you clicked in the middle the words “more…more…more…” would pop up along the center of the screen…Each time I clicked the more of the the words “more” would appear, getting smaller each time. I didn’t stop. I wanted to see how little they would become. Soon they looked like one thin white line across the screen…MORE…MORE…MORE…..Was I the only one doing this? Was I doing it “wrong” again? I felt disjointed. Uncomfortable. Sad. The voices were eerie. It was not entirely different from a horror movie that I was in control of…yet had no control over. The power to click mixed with the inability to manipulate the images and sound had me confused. Frustrated. Time flew. 30 seconds came and I quickly tried to make my way to words I hadn’t clicked on before. And then, again, the bell tolled and it was done. But, I pushed the back arrow this time and it let me back in! A glitch, perhaps? Or a planned allowance for seekers such as myself? I was back in but the clock was at 0:00 in the upper right corner. I pushed the forward arrow and the bell was still tolling. Back. Forth. Back. Forth. Back. Forth. Finally. X.
I was done. (For now.)