The theme of The Ghost in Our Machines is advanced technology allows us to stay connected to the past, however it can be bittersweet.
Malady expressed several instances to convey the theme. However, there were two that attracted my attention. Malady spoke of the yearly notifications of his mother’s birthday from Facebook. They troubled him, yet he did not want them to stop. Furthermore, he referenced the numerous automated emails from FTD approaching Mother’s Day to order flowers for his mother.
Description: “My Street View discovery was the best, but it was also the worst” (Malady, 264).
I could only imagine that it was heartwarming for Malady to see photos of his mother at the family home in which he had many memories as a teenager on Street View. In part, Street View allowed him to go back down memory lane and revisit the past. Equally, it was also heartbreaking to see his mother in the photos, knowing he would never see her alive again.
Description: “The confluence of emotions, when I registered what I was looking at, was unlike anything I had ever experienced — something akin to the simultaneous rush of a million overlapping feelings. There was joy, certainly — “Mom! I found you! Can you believe it?” — but also deep, deep sadness” (Malady, 263).
I experienced a roller coaster of emotions within seconds. I was excited and elated that by chance, or coincidence his mother was captured in the Street View photo. Immediately thereafter, I felt disappointment and sorrow as if conflicting emotions were coexisting within me.
Connection: As individuals, we too often experience both joy and sadness when viewing photos or videos of loved ones who have passed away.