Monday was a day like any other. I felt my alarm go off inside my head, courtesy of my jawbone implant. It has been there since I was a child and I often forget it even exists. The sounds and voices that I hear seem to come from inside my own head.
The sound I hear this morning is that of birds singing, and I slowly wake from my dream. It was a good dream; I was I was with my friends enjoying a cold and satisfying McFlurry® with OREO® cookies. (I never paid to have ads removed from my implant, but I don’t mind the sponsored dreams. They’re actually rather pleasant.)
I prepare for the day while the voice inside my head runs down my schedule. It counts down a timer during my shower, reminding me of how many carbon credits it will cost me if I take longer than the prescribed two minutes. By the time I was dry and dressed, my breakfast was ready. I quickly ate my insect soy patties as the voice in my head reminded me of how nutritious it was and how every ingredient had been ethically sourced. I tried to pretend it tasted good.
My podmates all finish their morning meals at about the same time. Everyone is staring straight ahead, catching up on the news and social media through text and images broadcast straight onto our eyes. Sure, we are aware of each other, but there is nothing requiring any interaction between us. As soon as we finish our meals we put our masks back on as we have been trained since birth to do.
I put on my coat and secondary mask and headed out the door, just in time for my regularly scheduled Uber. I glance out the window as the self-driving vehicle takes us down packed city streets. In the back of my mind I have an inkling that the real streets are dirty, dingy, and strewn with trash, but the imagery on the inside of the windows looks so real that I almost forget. I watch peaceful scenes that make me think of idyllic times, such as the 1990s, times I never knew but assume must really have existed.
We stop, and exit the vehicle in an orderly manner. I look up to see where we are: the clinic. Yes, it is Monday, which means our weekly vaccination appointment. We shuffle forward into the line, as screens all around remind us of how vaccination is our civic and moral duty. I look into the camera at the checkpoint to verify my identity, hold out my arm for the masked and visored nurse, feel a pinch as I get the jab, then walk out the exit. Another driverless Uber waits to take me to my job, where I’ll be posting on social media on behalf of my employer all day.
Sometimes I wonder if this is how humanity was meant to live. This really is a utopia, no crime, no poverty, no hunger. Everyone is happy – the self-scored wellness surveys always show 99.9% satisfaction. Yet something my grandfather said before he died has stuck with me all this time. Years ago, in an unguarded moment, he complained that the system had turned humans into animals, or enpeecees, as he said. He told me that when he was my age, people could go wherever they wanted, and had the freedom to think. But what about crime and poverty, I asked him? He said those were just facts of life, part of the human condition. I felt angry with him at the time, and dismissed his rant as just one of those things believed by older ignorant people. OK Millennial, I said under my breath. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe he knew something I didn’t, that there was something we had forgotten.
A buzzing noise in my ears brings me back to reality. I blink my eyes and return to the present, and focus on my work. Feelings like that always pass. Nobody else seems to have such thoughts, so I know I am probably wrong. The old human was greedy, wrathful, violent, and unhappy. The modern world is truly a utopia, and I am lucky to be alive to live in it.