In “The Soft Truth,” Leigh Alexander explores the impact one’s digital footprint can have on their life, ranging from career to relationships to identity.
The story begins with the narrator disclosing to her audience how she continues to see a second version of herself, slightly different from her, living in the same world. She concludes that her double must not know about “the blue sphere,” and that is why she is mostly the same as the narrator, but is not completely. We come to learn that the narrator’s more-than-friend, Veronica, had fired her from her job as a researcher at a digital footprint company due to her blue sphere obsession and her internet search history resulting from it, and the story ends with the narrator running into her double and finally getting to watch the blue sphere video once she is locked out of her double’s life.
The blue sphere is a recurring motif present in “The Soft Truth” that I believe represents the extreme of whatever is present online that is embarrassing or feels unnatural for the user, but is still engaged with for some reason or another. We all have things like that– content that feel safe to post or consume in a private digital space– but we must be warned that the algorithm still takes them into account. Like the narrator in “The Soft Truth,” if we are not careful with the way we present ourselves on the internet or with the content we choose to engage with, we can continuously be sucked in deeper until we lose ourselves in the false-satisfaction rabbit hole. We become subject to whatever content the algorithm leads us to consume, stepping in further and further until we can no longer escape the bias of the creator or the pull of the profit.