Resurrection in the Digital Age


“When I saw it, I thought you’d have a heart attack. I mean, what 5th grade girl raps to Tupac? You did!” As I read this BBM from a friend after she first saw the renowned Tupac hologram at Coachella, I was still suffering from the emotional fallout of witnessing this modern-day miracle just a day earlier. I had since received countless phone calls, BBMs, wall posts and Facebook messages either urging me to watch the YouTube clip or asking for my reaction. Little did people know, I was still trying to figure that out. 

As a die-hard Tupac fan from my middle school years, I could not believe it when I saw the hologram for the first time. I watched wide-eyed and open-mouthed as (insert air quotes here) “Tupac” performed, with goose bumps covering my entire body. I should’ve been excited. Scratch that, I should’ve been ecstatic! But all I could think the entire time I watched my favorite artist of all time perform was…what?!

There has been a lot of talk about the effects technology has on us, as there should be – it has permeated and influenced every aspect of our existence in more ways than one. But resurrecting the dead? Now I am not saying that immortality begins with hologram-filled music festivals, but let’s not ignore the implications.

Much has been written about how technology has changed social interactions. All you have to do is sit with an adult as they attempt to navigate the worlds of Facebook and BBM and you will realize that an alternate set of social rules has emerged. We don’t realize it, we didn’t actively construct it, and we can’t quit explain or define it – it has become second nature, a subconscious and internalized code of conduct. Try explaining to your parents why they can’t randomly add people they have a lot of mutual friends with, what a hash tag is, or why poking is a creepy form of cyber macking and you will realize just how hard it is to explain something that’s become second nature.

Despite its overwhelming benefits, the Tupac hologram has set me on a mental trip about just how much technology has affected our society and how little we understand the extent. Relationships begin and end on Facebook, and you can find out all there is to know about a person by looking at their Facebook page. This has not only changed how people interact, but has actually replaced getting to know someone. The mystery and excitement of meeting someone new, getting to know them more and more with every day, quickly fades when you can use stalker-friendly Facebook Timeline to see the spikey hair and acid wash jeans of 2005. I say this as someone whose very existence threatened by the presence of Timeline and who thanks God that Facebook wasn’t around when I was in Middle School – no one wants to see that.

Computer programs and iPhone apps allow you to create music without any musical background or talents whatsoever. Granted, the “democratization of the digital age” – its ability to allow anyone anywhere equal access to these amazing opportunities and tools – is always heralded as a good thing. But don’t you miss the good old days when you actually had to pick up an instrument and learn it? When you had to have an undeniable gift and talent in order to compose a song? When you needed more than an auto-tune app and a YouTube account to be a “singer”?

And now, holograms. The creation of such a life-like hologram is an incredible technological breakthrough – as evidenced by the overwhelming reaction the world over. But isn’t the beauty of life in its transience? For hundreds or thousands of years, great people have died young, leaving behind fans that revel in their short but inspirational lives. Now I am not saying that glory only comes from dying young, but why must we insist on using technology to bring back the dead – and to what end? I remember hearing about the possibility of “Tupac” going on tour and immediately exclaiming, “I am definitely going on tour! I can’t believe I can finally see him in concert!” After the initial elation wore off, I started thinking – am I really seeing “him”? If not, what am I seeing? And why am I seeing it? As a consumerist society, we have become accustomed to getting what we want when we want it. The concept of delayed gratification, or God forbid no gratification, is simply not an option. You want to see Tupac in concert? Enter “Tupac” the hologram!

Nothing like a little existential crisis to totally ruin your Death Row buzz, huh?