Living the Virtual Life
Doctor tells you to sit down, so right away you know. Your esophagus, your heart and your lungs are shot, you have a tumor the size of an Idaho potato growing in your brain and your twisted bowels could blow any second, but the parts are in stock and you'll be out in under an hour.
They’ll soon be able to scrape a little part of us off the pavement, reconstitute us in the fridge overnight, pop us out in the morning. We'll jiggle a bit, but once we get to room temperature we'll be ready to face another day of eternity, neither glad nor sad, and as even as a field of wheat, and full of joy to be so enjoined at root and sky, and free to wave forever under a nourishing sun, continually uploaded to protect the System from thoughts, especially those concerning the purposelessness of immortality. To keep us focused and on task we'll each be imbued with a sense of higher purpose--not the purpose so much as the sense of it, because, as we would have known had we read the contract when we clicked "I Accept," our purpose is unknowable.
Sex will no longer be necessary for reproduction and so will become recreational rather than procreational. Men and woman will trade hormones and come out somewhere in the middle, and it is this third sex that will reject pantyhose, paving the way to our inevitable nudity.
Two forces come together to create our rush to immortality. The first is biotech, DNA, stem cells and so forth.
The second force is environmental. We have become motionless bodies exposed to little wear and tear, like garage-kept new cars, never driven, without miles.
We finally figured out – quite by accident – just how harmful physical movement has always been. Not just physical exercise and sports, but physical movement of any kind, including the use of nonmotorized wheelchairs. Very, very bad.
Long term, it’s physical exercise that kills us. Use is abuse. Muscles are unnecessary – why feed them? Anorexia was normal all along. Paris Hilton is buff.
Our new bodies were first modeled by Bill Gates, who set himself to the task of reducing us all to his meekly stature when he reached his stated goal of putting a personal computer on the desk of every human being in the world – or was that Steve Jobs’ goal? It doesn’t matter. History’s bunk anyway, as Lee Iococca said so memorably.
Between our dangerous jaunts through the real world we’re spending more and more time in the safe-zone of computer interplay, tapping, mousing, reading, writing, playing, adding, subtracting – it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, as long as we’re sitting still.
Imagine a time-lapse motion study of you sitting at your computer. You might disappear once in awhile for a frame while you go pee, but then you’re back, as still as a stone monk with a bad twitch.
Not so long ago it was believed that lack of exercise – lack – was bad enough for the human body to actually kill it. Ironically, this was just about the time the personal computer made its debut.
Somewhere in the eighties, between the introduction of the TRS80 Model II Computer by Radio Shack (which harnessed 64k of raw power and included a second disc drive which by itself was the size of a small refrigerator, all for $13,000), and the time that Time Magazine called the Computer their Man of the Year, a middle-aged man named Jim Fixx came running down America’s streets wearing silly outfits and special shoes and headgear to sop up sweat, every inch of him pasted over with logos.
His body was tanned, fit and ready for casual sex, which had only been discovered a few years earlier. Jim Fixx claimed he wasn’t running, but jogging.
And thus was born a book deal that had all the working parts of not just a bestseller but of a new industry, with clothing lines for men and women where they could dump anything tawny, lime or teal; with shoes that were light as a feather and cost more than a set of steel-belted radials; with gyms and spas and health centers and equipment and memberships, and sports bars and sport bras; with divorce attorneys specializing in couples who were former ugly ducklings who transformed themselves to swans and went out for separate swims just to see what it’s like – a huge industry, which in turn created the plastic surgery industry.
All this because of one man, Jim Fixx. The father of jogging.
Jim Fixx wrote an extremely large book and encouraged people of all ages to run away from death like he was, and overnight half of America did as they were told, but many of them forgot to stretch first, or to wear bright colors, so they really had to buy the book, which was very expensive and required two payments at the time, since this was before electronic money.
The next day, half of America wore jogging suits, which were actually jumpsuits, which are the same as feety pajamas. Resembling multicolored spacemen, these early joggers ran around the block and eventually stumbled on straight lines which often took them as far away as ten miles. The problem was getting home.
Then Dr. Fixx – and we don’t know if he was a doctor or not, but – Dr. Fixx suggested that by running in a larger circle, joggers could eliminate their need for a ride home.
No wonder they called him “father.” He knew best!
Once the other half of America bought the book and the suits and shoes and headbands and memberships about a week after the first half jumped on, Jim Fixx keeled over and died.
He was a fairly young man.
We do not know how he died. No one talked about things like that back then. It would have been disrespectful to mention the obvious irony of this fitness guru’s sudden death. It would have been disrespectful to the majority of Americans who had invested so heavily in their own health.
Americans didn’t want to admit they’d been duped. What could they do? Go back to fat and ugly? Go back to hanging with other ugly fat people? It would have wrecked all their relationships, which were unbelievably fantastic and fulfilling, every last one.
So the people were divided. And a portion of the people felt they had the excuse they’d been looking for and headed out for a beer. But another portion said no; we shall never be fat or ugly again. They developed bodies like Arnold Schwartzenegger, a fictional character, and Pamela Anderson, who is plastic. Most Americans today are descended from The People That Headed Out For Beer.
We could find out how Jim Fixx died, though it might require research. It is far less laborious to simply say he fell face down in his oatmeal.
You would think the sudden death of Jim Fixx would have wised people up, but it didn’t. Runners began mating and soon even faster runners were being produced with remarkable speed and efficiency. Now rarely seen, they live in the wilds. But every once in a while you may see a flash of bright blue lycra.
And you will shiver. Click carefully.