Sunday, 23 February 2020

Exiled

 by Lena Green

bitter lemon


So, can you tell me how it all started: how you came to feel exiled from yourself, as you say.

Well, it was back last summer. I read an advert in the paper. It said something like: are you fed up with having to hold your phone?  Do you long to have your hands free again? If so, ring a certain number for more details. You’ll never regret this step, it said. 

So I did - I rang the number, and they explained that instead of having the chip inside your phone, you could have it implanted in your brain instead. That way you could control your phone or laptop or whatever, simply by thought. That way you didn’t have to go through all the palaver of the apps and typing in because you could simply direct your thought to wherever, and the answer to whatever you wanted would appear in your mind straight away. It would be the new ‘hands free’; you could leave your phone at home – because the chip would always be with you, implanted in your brain. Easy! It said! Who could refuse?

Were you sceptical at all?

Well... er ... unbelievably, at the time: no. I had started getting this numb thumb, repetitive strain injury the doctor called it, so … well, it seemed like a good idea.

So, I phoned.  I asked a few questions and they explained that his was the new way to go. I would be at the cutting edge of technology –all my friends would be envious. Chips were getting smaller; implanting was getting easier … why get left behind? So, to cut a long story short: I went ahead. 

The procedure itself only took a half day, although I did take the afternoon off from work because I had a bit of a headache. But after that it was fine.

You didn’t have regrets then – once it was in?

No, it was fine. I emailed my friends – simply by ‘thought’, with no problems at all. The system worked. I was glad I had caught on to the idea.  I managed to keep in daily contact with my parents, so they liked it!  And if I wanted to google something, I knew the answer straight away. It was almost as though I knew everything.

So, I thought I would test it out by going to the pub quiz. I didn’t really need to be in a team of four, but to make it look good I asked a few friends to come along with me. Sure enough, every question I knew the answer. In fact, the only question we got wrong was the one Rob insisted he was right and I was wrong. We walked away with the prize, and thought we would go back the following week.

And did you?

Well, no!  The landlord asked us not too! 

So all went well. 

Yes, sort of.  It certainly saved a lot of time at work. But then after a while, things started to boring.   And then worse still, I began losing friends.  People didn’t want to be with me because they said I knew too much.  They said I was no fun to be with, so they stopped including me.  And me? Well, I just switched off.

And then I thought blow them! I will go out and find new friends.  But then as soon as I met someone, I immediately knew everything about them. You see, as I was talking to them so I had immediate access to Facebook and LinkedIn and everything else.  I had nothing to learn from them, I just knew everything!   So you see, I can’t just ‘chat’ any more. Life now has no surprises: life has no excitement: there’s nothing unknown: no challenge.

That sounds sad.

Yes, it is. The result of all this is that I find myself alone and friendless. I’ve become the know-all! They joke behind my back, and well, life has simply become hell.

In a moment of desperation, I contacted the firm and asked if I could have the chip removed. Answer: an emphatic ‘no’.They said I had signed the agreement for a six-year trial and that was that. It was only later that I found out that they were selling the results of my brain activity to some foreign data base company …  and that made me even more distressed!

So, you see: the result is that I have lost myself. I’ve driven myself into exile.

I’m completely at odds with who I was. I have no personality. I have no friends. I am simply a chip – a chip that knows and can do everything, yet a chip that can be out-flanked by some data company since they control my every thought.  

I’m lost to a world beyond myself, because by freeing my hands, I have freed my identity.  I am a nothing. I am completely lost.


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