The Thing

A short story about how we unwittingly found ourselves surrounded by sensors in an always-connected world.

Still from the "Creature from the Black Lagoon". ca 1953. Black & white photonegative, 4 x 5 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Still from the “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. ca 1953. Black & white photonegative, 4 x 5 in. | State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

We started calling The Thing The Thing long before it really was The Thing. I should like to say that “The Internet of Things” was very long-winded and that “The Thing” was its natural abbreviated form. Just as we had got used to dividing the world between physical and pixelated reality, the sensors multiplied. At the start it was easy, because they were outside of us: in our mobile phone, glasses, watch, bracelet, clothes. You could disconnect. You were not impregnated. But then along came the lenses and the implants, and above all, the membrane. For four or five years it was like an elastic cover: the sensors really could collect direct information from all your pores, from all your blood vessels, and from each of your organs. But the truth is that it was too hot in the summer and the cheapest versions were a little bit uncomfortable, and then some genius had the idea of a spray format and that was it, in the shower, after drying yourself, you spray on the membrane and for 24 hours you are literally covered. Daubed. Emitting. Then it was The Thing, but for a long time we had been calling our permanent connection, to the indiscernible screen of the skin. At some time a cartoon of The Thing from the Swamp went viral and helped us to understand what had happened. The expression gained layers of dirt and meaning. The drawing is a close-up shot of the mossy head, very red eyes, with green oozing out, that says “I don’t know where I end and where the swamp starts”. It’s true. You didn’t know if you were a hero or a monster. You didn’t know to what point he was the person that he was, the monster he was now or, above all, that swamp that soaked one through to the bone marrow. And that constituted it. You knew nothing. Centuries thinking about robots and cyborgs, but not about viscous creatures and that was what we had become. The truth is that it soon stopped mattering to us.

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