Mitski croons almost despondently on her first Billboard Hot 100 charter, “Nothing in the world belongs to me. But my love, mine, all mine.” For the track to end up being the most resonant among Mitski’s catalog speaks to the distance with which most of us approach and love in a world steeped in disparity, a world where most of us can own so little yet lose so much in a lifetime.
There used to be days when I couldn’t see beyond my screen, stuck in a malaise induced by Sisyphean doom scrolling and believing that all I could ever love or need can be found in my bookmarks tab. And in an age of all-out digital consumerism, how could digital living and loving be a substitute when it’s all some people have ever known and it’s much more convenient? Or at least that’s the promise advertising sold us.
Those were the days when I would forget how much I love the birds outside my bedroom window, the sound of wind rustling through trees, apples and oranges, the expansive sky, jeepneys and trains, people and their warm palms, my nation with its convoluted history, heck even my dog curled up by my feet.
I’ve forgotten that there is so much I can call mine and bear witness to—so many small things, as Arundhati Roy calls them, that can lead to big things from love to political upheaval. There is so much experience and change lost in the onlooking of digital existence. Even the Apple Vision Pro is having a hard time masking what it essentially is, a glorified helmet shielding you from being present and being reached by small things.
The internet is vast, but maybe not as vast as before. Despite how deeply entrenched in and reliant we are on this commodified husk of Web 2.0, more of us are realizing that nothing beats contact and connection in the real world.
Even the body longs for the tangible. Nonsexual touch causes the release of oxytocin and other feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. Out of touch and out of love incels weren’t born but molded by their environment or lack thereof. They believe that they belong to and are accountable to no one because they lost themselves in that feeling of oblivion that comes from being unseen.
To love is to choose devotion over feeling devoid. Loving in the age of the great, wide, commodified internet is choosing to live in the material world where there is so much you can care for. To love is to belong to others, to each other. To love is to know and to be known by horrors and beauty in the changing, changeable now. My love is mine, is ours as is everything in the world.