I came away from this essay by Merritt Tierce feeling … many things. A bit of confusion. Some unease. Unexpected mental fatigue. Tierce makes interesting observations about her and our Very Online lives, and the relationships we have with our phones, the internet, and one another.

The feeling of the internet has become such a feeling, a feeling of continuous vulnerability, and you can’t turn it off, it never ends. Even if my phone is off, is elsewhere, even if my computer is in a different country, the internet is there wherever I am, because it’s in me now. I’m talking about the lingering psychic, psychological, and physiological connection that I can no longer shut off, that has changed my mind. It manifests as a minor but noticeable discomfort, a permanent buzzing in my mind, like a leaf blower that never moves on down the street. Or consider the feeling of having your mouth stuck wide open at the dentist’s, or your breast smashed by the mammographer, or your legs spread for whatever consensually chosen activity you’d like to imagine; you may want what’s happening, you may have voluntarily paid for it or requested it, for reasons that fall along a spectrum from necessity to deep desire, but part of your original want includes the assumption that the experience will end, you will be able to relax your jaw and have your boob back and curl up into a ball.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.