It’s always been stressful on the internet, but lately, something feels different. There have always been trolls and ugly news stories, but in recent months, we’re starting to catch dread glimpses of a larger design. We sense a latent horror behind the social media cleanses and offline apps, an understanding that the mere presence of networked electronics draws us ever deeper into the dark ocean of gibbering madness that always lingers just beyond our comprehension.
Some nights ago, I happened upon the disjointed ramblings of a Tumblr user called “astercrash,” which brought the matter into terrible clarity.
We’ve got this dimension right next to ours, that extends across the entire planet, and it is just brimming with nightmares. We have spambots, viruses, ransomware, this endless legion of malevolent entities that are blindly probing us for weaknesses, seeking only to corrupt, to thieve, to destroy.
Add onto that the corrupted ones themselves, humans who’ve abandoned morality and given up faces to hunt other people, jeering them, lashing out, seeing how easy it is to kill something you can’t touch or see or smell. They’ll corrupt anything they think could be a vessel for their message and they’ll jabber madly at any who question them. Their chittering haunts every corner of the internet. They are not unlike the spambots in some ways.
Add on top of that the arcane magisters, who are forever working at the cracks between our world and the world we made. Some of them do it for fun, some of them do it for wealth, others do it for the power of nations unwise enough to trust them. There are mages who work to defend against this particular evil, but they are mad prophets, and their advice is almost never heeded, even by those who keep them as protection.
It makes a lot of sense! Cybersecurity folks tend to assume the internet is an endless source of threats, but now that hordes of Kremlin-backed troublemakers are spreading Bernie Sanders thong drawings to weaken America’s resolve, this kind of waking nightmare is more plausible than ever. Who among us, after a late night of browsing, has not sensed the delirious rumblings of an ancient and unspeakable horror? In the haze of connectivity, are we not all drawn to the same nightmarish portent?
Maybe not on Instagram.