Dec 29, 2016, 09:39AM

My Dream About Social Media

And a Victorian professor.

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I dreamt that a college grew out of an opera house. The bright open space of the opera stage served as the focal point for a vast processing, as happens when new students are fed into their university. Not that the processing was on view; dreams are great for telling instead of showing, and this one laid down that the stage was the heart of our college lives. This sense alternated with a different one, that of finding myself tucked into the bright cube of a chamber where I’d pass my freshman year with my assigned roommate. The roommate was a difficult fellow with choppy black hair and the ability to be authoritative about political information found on the Internet. I wasn’t sure if he approved of me.

Outside our cube lay the dark and, in some ways, rubber-coated hallways that led to the stairways and elevators that coursed the heights and depths of our new university. I could never find my path along all these hallways, or up and down the stairways and elevators. If I thought I knew one, there’d always be another, and 20 more after that, and telling them apart would be something other people could do and I couldn’t.

Coming to college meant existing in a great conclave, or collision, of decks and hallways that might’ve crowded the skies if any skies were available. But we were all indoors (this is the dream, not my actual college) and I was supposed to make sense of it as a place where people lived their lives. Everyone else managed. A population thronged within reach and got where they had to go along the decks and bright cubes and…

Back to the opera house perspective. The decks and bright cubes piled themselves into the massed banks of that eminent tower, my combo opera house and university. The lights pinned against the black, piled against it, multiplied into the white-blue circuits that are social media’s mind. As I regard them, I hear a voice. I’m late to my first lecture, but it has come to find me and it says this:

“The earth bears us and ‘we regard it not,’ to borrow the language of the Parables. We look from where we are and seek what is removed. Let us return our eyes to their business of guiding our feet. I mean, gentlemen, that we can revere the clustered heaven above without mistaking it for our proper environment—for where we are. The arena of our lives, of the challenges we meet or shirk, the love that we own or that owns us, the structures we build and guard against time’s collapse. The white dots that crowd the sky and buzz within our minds make a difference of not an inch to where our feet fall, to why our hearts choose, to what our hands fashion.”

The professor is a barrel-like man, a little below average height and impressive in the shoulders. His dark hair crowds back from a rising forehead, and his face is firm and elastic. It’s a bit intimidating that his mutton chops puff such a fierce half-inch from his face. These are gray, for the most part, or they’re a tangled black and gray that foams a good way to his jaw. He’s a determined man, fierce.

I raise my hand. I have a question to ask. He affects not to see me, and I respect this. He has things to say and my education has just begun. I look at the white-blue circuits above, then look away. I’m going to listen.

Then I wake up.

—Follow C.T. May on Twitter: @CTMay3


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