Alternate Kin Lane - Nothing Here Is Real (aka Fiction)

I Caught Myself Flickering in the Mirror Late Thursday Night

I spend a lot of time working late. 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM is prime coding time. Even after working a 10 hour day at my job, I am usually working 4-6 hours late into the night on any one of my side projects. Last week my girlfriend had bought a new mirror and put it by the bathroom door in our bedroom, perfectly placed to reflect myself back to me as a sat at my bedroom office desk. I regularly noticed myself out of the corner of my eye, but I hadn’t really given the mirror much thought. A couple of times I would stop and acknowledge how old and fat I am getting, but it was late into the night this last Thursday, as I approached 3:00 AM and was just about to hit save on some fresh code, I noticed a faint flicker in the mirror. I skipped a beat. My reflection had flickered, like the mirror was a television.

It freaked me out so much I moved the mirror. I think I slept an hour that night. I am guessing it was my eyes playing tricks on me after staying up so long staring at the screen. Or maybe it was the pot I smoked earlier that night. I’ve heard of people lacing weed. That would explain why it seemed so real to me. I could feel it. I could feel the flickering throughout my body, and in my head. It is like I have spent so much time online performing as a digital version of myself, that my digital self began flipping switches to turn on and off my physical self, instead of the other way around. I was still present, but the old physical representation of myself wasn’t carrying as much weight as it normally does. I felt like had given so much power to the online version of myself, that my physical body almost didn’t matter-—except that it does!

My girlfriend ended up moving the mirror into the bathroom, so it isn’t a problem anymore. I am a little afraid to see if the flickering is still happening. Since then I have experienced five more times where I felt the same way as I did that night, wrapping up marathon coding sessions, or just spending way too much time online watching videos, chatting, and scrolling through meaningless digital garbage. I feel it in my head first. A sort of digital migraine, where the gears start skipping a beat, and my brain feels like it’s getting electrical pulses from a long fried circuit board still trying to accomplish its binary tasks. I’m too afraid to put the mirror back in place and confirm my worst fears—-that I have spent so much time online that my physical self barely even matters anymore in this digital prison I have built for myself online.