Arcade Fire - Everything Now
They heatedly vent into their cell phone while pumping gasoline into their Mercedes C300 at the Shell Station. They’d have to get it washed too: A monsoon rolled through two days ago and now grime and salt were all over the bumpers and tires and if the cleaning was put off any longer the thing would start to rust. Jamming their Apple iPhone 7 between their head and left shoulder they slide their Amex Centurion through the card reader, spitting to their co-worker, “and if they walk away from this one they’re psychotic – but that crew have always been flakes.” $29.66. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned into some kind of lawsuit, but upper-management couldn’t...” Their words just hang in the air for some seconds as a mass of gray overwhelms the sky and rain begins to fall upon everything now. They have to cut off the call and so they shove the Apple iPhone into their mouth before efficiently re-entering the vehicle. No thumb print scanner yet. Should be next year’s model.
One-hundred-and-fifteen degrees and it was still only August, they think while clicking on Sirius Radio and pulling onto the loop. A sound bite of the President screaming about bad deals followed by parroting heads followed by a word from our sponsors gurgles out of the car speakers like hot melted tar through a grate. Then, “…leading technicians suggest that in the next five years we may all have microchips implanted into the skin of our hands…more on that in a minute”. A logical next step, what with Google Glasses and the Oculus Rift more immersively simulating our world day by day. Are the lives we are forced into and the ones we create nudging each other? Sizing each other up? Wondering how to eventually kill off the other before assessing the damage? But here’s the real question: Why is everyone so afraid of suddenly getting everything they have ever wanted? Mashing ease and escape with biology and psychology makes for great business, the best - all that’s left is learning how to prevent poor people from cutting off our hands or gouging out our eyes. “More on that in a minute…”
On the freeway they continue to fume about their day of work while peering toward the mass of gray broken up by signs: A crying woman sits alone on a couch, inky black makeup streaming down their cheeks - “Consume all the content you Love to feel the emotions you Need.”; An ethnically diverse group of 20-somethings stand huddled together with Cheshire cat grins plastered on their faces - “At Identity We Brand The Real You.”; White Jesus looks down sadly, blood gushing out of His crown of thorns. The rain picks up.
The Mercedes C300 screams down the highway at ninety-miles-per-hour but boasts a top speed of one-hundred-and-fifty. On the radio two hosts debate about which side of America hates each other more and the driver checks their Apple iPhone: First they filter through emails to feast upon whatever passive aggressive or politically-loaded self-serving communication their co-workers might have cooked up in the last half-hour post-weekly meeting.
Hello colleagues, just a friendly reminder that if you’re planning to attend next week’s “All Hands on Deck”, try and go over the pre-built memo containing an itinerary so that we don’t get quite so sidetracked and go over by 15 minutes because some of us have children who need to attend tennis practice and then violin.
Thanks so much ;)
Fuck you, Debbie. They glance back at the road before switching to social media. Here is where they proceed to look at other people’s faces and to read what they’re feeling and to know what television shows they’re emotionally affected by and to admire what they’re eating and to analyze their thoughts on celebrity politicians and to look at their faces and to learn how they’re coping and to watch in wonder at how they change and age and if they embrace the degradation or try and fight it. The squelching odor of asphalt seeps in as the roadside cacti blur.
The Mercedes C300 is pushing one-hundred-miles-per-hour and its driver clicks a link from The Scientific American shared by one of the more popular members of their network of friends:
“The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections […] For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.”
What we’re learning is that, at least assuming our human life span continues to rise and we manage to temper the effects of memory eating diseases, we could exponentially increase our capacity for content consumption over time. Everything once unknown can now become known. No more mysteries or inabilities to relate. Are you ever worried about slipping out of touch? The entities behind your favorite content will fix that. Everything is easier now. Everything is wet, too, the windshield wipers clicking their inanimate jealousy.
The Mercedes C300 reaches one-hundred-and-twenty-miles-per-hour and the driver receives a notification. “You have been tagged in a photo”. For a small moment the driver loses their self, focusing in on the image: In the foreground are two pudgy boys standing next to a community center swimming pool. The sun is bouncing off of the wet pavement creating a rainbow-like aura across the image. The boys hold their hands up, palms facing forward, covered in grass and earth. One boy mischievously smiles at his friend while the other laughs toward the camera lens, both squinting with purity – like they’d been rescued from the bottom of a cave and dragged into the sun for the first time. In the background other children splash, their parents tan on the rim. You can almost hear the whole thing just looking at it.
“Now what you’re telling me, doctor, is that in just a few years we will be able to make all of our favorite purchases with the swat of our hands?” sludges the tar.
The driver of the Mercedes C300 picks up the speed to one-hundred-and-thirty-miles-per-hour and begins to recall a lack of access. For a brief moment, the driver is pulled between selves. A fleck of primordial recognition ignites – human beings aren’t designed for this speed. The American pre-millennial generation and whatever they will eventually be called are partially defined by not having been born into the age of Instantly Accessible Infinite Content, but instead, watching it rise with them: They know the feeling of boredom and wasted hours. Unfilled time from the moment of awakening to the plugging of the percolator. They remember dial up and flip phones before exploding their minds with handheld computers. Either time passed more slowly when they were a child, or the always-option to lose oneself has altered their concept of time entirely. The needle wavers, a perfectly human hairline crack crawling up the base of the speedometer.
The driver doesn’t remember, but the loop curves sharply shortly before their exit. As the Mercedes C300 crashes into the concrete divider the driver recalls the memory, but of course doesn’t remember a photo being taken. Instead, they remember the feeling – one lost on them now. Or moved past. This feeling was joy derived from Nothing: No plans. No pressures. No measures. No seeking your favorite answers to questions when your mind slips. Just, how do I spend today?
As the Mercedes C300 crumples like tin foil, the arm of the driver reflexively bends inward, sending their smartphone soaring through the jaw of their face, wheel of the Mercedes C300 through ribcage, and glass shards through everything. The paramedics arrive a clinical 30 minutes too late, the still working Apple iPhone bobbing in a small pool next to the pinnacle of human error. This year’s model is completely water impermeable. At least that much is true. The dark gray sky just keeps emptying itself onto the scene as though it’s begging for something to grow there.