There is a ghost who haunts my house, who wanders from room to room. He has never passed through walls, ceilings or floors but I know he is a ghost all the same. He likes to walk alone by the beach, where the waves wash away his shuffled footprints before they are seen by another soul. He is not dead… though he not quite alive. He’s never truly touched or moved the world with any sort of action, neither violent nor gentle. I often wonder what sort of ghost he is: there’s no similarity to Banquo – our ghost has no taste for revenge – he has no warning to press on the living as Jacob Marley did to Scrooge. In fact, our ghost isn’t even aware he is dead.
Instead, our ghost continues to live an illusion of life. When he likes a film, a book, or an album, he pirates it. No money goes towards the creators and he has no effect on the world. He is smart enough to route the system but not smart enough to see that the artists he enjoys will die off.
His only romance is directed towards his computer screen. It all begins – like these encounters usually do – with a passing glance. In our ghost’s case, he spots a possible mate on the Facebook suggested friends list. He stalks like a lioness creeping along the savannah, his mouse pointer hovers over her profile (not yet daring to click anything), he clicks on the profile. He is hidden and anonymous behind the tall grasslands we call the Internet. He creeps down through the decades as scrolling through the pictures. Maybe he’ll put on a nice song (one he pirated of course). Now relaxed, he’ll think about life as a man instead of a ghost – a life with this phantom girl. He’ll place himself in her pictures: tanning at the beach, hanging out at the mall, lying down in the middle of a meadow looking at the stars. He’ll imagine conversations, emotional, witty, deep conversations that go on for hours. He’ll be staring off daydreaming for so long that his computer screen will go to sleep, he’ll wake from a social media-induced opium dream to find his lonely eyes staring back at himself in the black mirror of the screen.
The true tragedy is that even his fantasies are inadequate. They have pieced together limbs from different romance movies and books. He has never experienced a relationship before and so he plasters his face over Ryan Goslings or Channing Tatum to act out his mental performance. His dates have a soundtrack, they are edited, there is no filler. It is a performance which he plays to himself.
His entire life is simulated, his desires, needs and especially his fears. He only dabbles in reality and treats it as an unfortunately necessary ingredient to fuel his dreams. He obsesses over trivial games, games that are mere imitations and poor ones at that. Living life fully is the greatest game, the stakes couldn’t be higher for our lives are all we have ever had. All over games spawn from this. It’s no coincidence that men perceived as lacking manhood, such as our ghost, often play games with no real consequences. The video games he spends hours at contain safe pleasures though they are small ones and have no real punishment for inadequacy. Only when you can feel the sweat stinging your brow and the satisfying tightness of a muscle pushed beyond what your mind’s expectations, only then will you truly feel human. I mean feel in the truest sense: sensation. The most accessible method of achieving this is physical exertion: to feel your soul bulging at the seams of your body. Pain is not necessary to live a happy life but it helps.
Although the ghost who wanders my house is lonely, he is not alone. I am sure that you already have a certain person in your life in mind who fits the description of my ghost (and if not then maybe you are a ghost). In the past, they have always been solitary but now with the socialising capabilities of the internet, enclaves have popped up all over the web. There is safety and power in numbers: colonies of bacteria or swarms of locust are powerful but individually are weak. The same can be found in weak individuals you have never truly felt the strength in themselves alone but find solace in a group. In the later 20th century we called them losers, eventually, they were distinguished into punks, goths, nerds etc. Now in the 21st century, we have even groups that would be considered strange by the last century’s losers: Bronies, Furries, Anime obsessed weeaboos, and Social Justice Warriors to name some of the more well known. Good for them you might say, well you would be mistaken in thinking that. Although humans are social animals and extreme isolation is incredibly unhealthy, sometimes poor company can be equally unhealthy. These enclaves can’t be compared to supportive groups because they don’t acknowledge their insecurities and issues, rather they encourage further envelopment into their strange hobbies. The main similarities between them are their fear of being weak, their emphasis of their victimhood, and an avoidance of adult responsibilities.
If this was enough to find them pathetic, simply look at their warped ideas of sex. Freud would have a field day with these specimens. Sexualisation and fetishes are all warped from the same vanilla brand of sex. BDSM, for example, is the inclusion of pain into the world usually reserved for pleasure. It becomes disgusting when individuals who refuse to grow up also refuse to give up sexual desire. As a result, we see fandom’s move into sexualised territory. Children’s television shows are turned into masturbatory material for sex-starved losers. Nothing is sacred, not even a show as innocent as My Little Pony. These groups are distinctive but are merely minority groups of a larger problem.
Half the world seems to be walking around in diapers, dragging their shit filled pants from one obligation to another. No one’s in control or is responsible; we follow the phantoms of wealth, status and fame – led on with celebrity news and television like a donkey following a carrot hung in front of him. The more we pursue these illusory goals the further they move away, we always need more. Goals that bring real satisfaction are always straight forward (not to say they can’t be complex) and are related to survival. War is an excellent example of this concept. PTSD rarely occurs while the soldier is still at war but when he returns back to his country he finds a home where neighbour fights neighbour, ties to friends and family who bicker and backstab each other seem like nothing to the brotherhood formed under battle. These are things that allow a human to truly feel as if he is alive, sex, love, war, revenge, hunger, thirst, misery, grief, terror, joy, euphoria, bliss, revelation. I believe the worst someone can feel is depressed, to feel numb to all things. A life of joy is undoubtedly better than a life of misery, but I would rather live in misery than be deprived of any meaning at all.
In today’s society, the stakes are lower. We still fight for our lives as our ancestors did but we do not fight against the disease, invaders, animals, or savages. Instead, we fight for our lives shift by shift. We are still fighting for our lives as every person must do, however in this era, our enemies are advertisers who’re sword and shield are laced with deceit and treachery – selling us items that we had no use for before we were beguiled into spending our money. And don’t be mistaken into thinking I’m just referring to the men and women whose faces cringe with smiles tainted with ill will you see on the television with a sandwich toaster-vacuum combination, I also include army recruiters, university professors, charity fundraisers, your boss, and even your mother In this world we can be slain while breath still passes through our lips for decades longer, and god have mercy on you if you have a last moment of clarity on your deathbed – that in your final moments, as the death rattle echoes out of your throat, you realise that you gave the most valuable years of your life away with complacency.
So foul ghost, before you find yourself staring into the void — with only the memories of a settle-for-wife, water cooler conversations, and your children growing up to live lives as dead as you are – burn thy bones. Ignite them quickly else you’ll find the only mark you will have made on God’s green earth will be the six-foot ditch your family dug to forget you all the sooner.