I am obsessed over the way Virginia Heffernan parallels the immortality of digital content to the religious belief of life after death. As a World Religions major, I am obsessed over descriptions of my two favorite subjects– religion and media- in her witty, fluid prose.
Heffernan’s last chapter of Magic and Loss, Even If You Don’t Believe In It, relates heaven to the Cloud, the realm of life after death for digital entities. With the tangible resources of this world, human beings have produced another– a digital world. Perhaps that deems us gods of our own technological creations, deciding which remain immortal, or backed up, after those worlds end. Perhaps Judgement Day is a great flood of water washing over a MacBook keyboard. God’s Chosen Files will find eternal life in data heaven.
There are mystical qualities to cyberspace, just as there are sects of mystics within religious denominations. Otherworldly essences are intricate, difficult to comprehend, for they are intangible. Isn’t it part of the human condition to cling to what we know will one day terminate? We know our computers, our cellphones are mortal, so the user grieves their deaths, “weeps, as for his very soul” (Heffernan 208), like we do loved ones. We place so much stock in what we hold in our hands that we forget what is everlasting: knowledge that is digitally documented in the ether, the Cloud. That’s all we need, right? If we don’t really need to mourn over our lost toys, why do we?