In the Internet Age, there is no past. There is only the present. There is no escape from who you were, no matter how you may have changed.
I won’t labor too long on this point, as it’s just something that’s been on the mind lately. It makes me wonder about all of us who are producing, or appearing on, podcasts. It makes me wonder about all of us who blog.
You have to tread a fine line. If you cross someone who’s vindictive enough, they’ll manipulate audio or present it out of context to paint you in the worst light possible. If you make a misstatement on a blog, or overestimate the ability of people to read satire, you’ll be virtually dragged.
Worst of all, you have to be conscious that it’s out there. As they say, the Internet Never Forgets. It’s like we’re trapped in a state of perpetual stasis, with no allowance for something said in the past to…remain there.
People used to accept that you may have been a different person. That you could grow.
You’d recount a story from when you were younger and dumber, and smile ruefully. Sometimes you’d miss the fun, sometimes you’d be amazed you beat the odds. Sometimes, you’d be filled with regret.
Being me, I thought of Anakin Skywalker
Now Hear Me Out on This One
I’m just thinking about this in terms of the Internet Age. It happens.
In a sense, Darth Vader is a metaphor for how some people think regret is supposed to work. You must wear your Scarlet Letter – or, in Vader’s case, walking prison suit – to signify your perpetual punishment for the past.
Isn’t that part of what kept him trapped in bitterness and anger? He was literally in a permanent state of pain and anguish. After a certain point, all it does is further warp a person. They use this eternal mark as fuel for anger, and bitterness.
Vader was freed by love, shown to him by someone who had no reason to show it to him. Finally, what he’d been told – that the path he was walking was one from which he could never return – was revealed for the lie that it was. That there is always a way back, and you have to seek it.
But also, someone has to have the courage to extend that first hand to you. Someone has to be willing to acknowledge that no one is beyond redemption. It’s either there for all of us, or none.
Just a passing thought.