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Loving the fake life

No more senses working overtime

Jeffrey Denny

Some like the high road, I like the low road,
Free from the care and strife.
Sounds corny and seedy, but yes, indeedy;
Give me the simple life.

— Harry Ruby/Rube Bloom

My typical wonderful day:

6:30 am: Woke up from another sleepless night, even though I had ramped up my custom Sleep Number® setting to be optimal for my body needs. Wondered whether I was “woke,” as in conscious of oppression, or just awake, as in not asleep.

6:45 am: Poured my usual cup of decaffeinated “coffee alternative” made of organic cacao, chicory, dandelion root and sweet cinnamon, splashed with a dollop of nut milk. Wondered how many almond farmers have hands tiny enough to milk nuts, the kind of thing you ponder when you’re half awake.

7:00 am: Caring for the planet, took a “shower” with waterless DryBath® (“cleans your body by using the skin-rubbing motion of your hands to gently remove dead skin cells & full-body odour”). Then dressed in my usual business casual casual casual plus, which is not dissimilar from my sleeping garments except without the Disney characters.

7:15 am: Grabbed a foodless food bar and asked Siri to ask Alexa to ask my driverless car to start up and both heat the seats and blast the a/c. It’s like sitting in a ski resort outdoor Jacuzzi, or Nixon with the White House fireplace roaring in summer.

7:30 am: While “driving” to work, I “read” (glance-scanned) my phone’s fake news feed with click-bait headlines curated to please my cognitive bias and motivated reasoning, and invoke exciting ire. En route, while yelling about stupid Americans I disagree with politically, I provided constructive guidance to another driver-less car that cut off mine. “How about some turn signal, you stupid robot?” I screamed.

8:00 am: Slid into my work station. I’m lucky my job is completely automated, so I put on my sound-cancelling headphones to ignore the face-to-face conversations and collaboration that open office spaces with limited spatial boundaries are designed to promote. First off, I emailed a long and thoughtful non-answer to the guy in the next cube in response to his urgent email about an urgent project we’re collaborating on. (Hahaha, I thought, he has no idea it was me who filed the toxic workplace complaint with HR about his excessive flatulence. But then he claimed protected status on account of his chronic IBS. Well played, sir.)

10:53 am: I resisted the desire to flirt with a certain “they” (we don’t use victimizing cisgender terms such as “gal” here in our teamplace) a few cubes away who once smiled at me. I’m not one of those white Western privileged cisgender male-identified narcissists who thinks “he” can just walk up and demand, “Wanna grab a Kombucha sometime?” “They” might be French given they’s Audrey Hepburn gamine elegance and insouciant mien, so may claim #MoiAussi and ruin my internet “life.” But as an assumed phallocrat, I’d welcome the payback for centuries of male oppression. Zut alors! Maybe I am woke!

12 noon: Went downstairs to the work gym and stood next to a Peloton to watch an on-demand Daily Live Ride video with an Elite Instructor. It was invigorating in a satisfyingly exhausting way. After a year of commitment to no pedaling I lost an amazing 0.141748 kilograms but felt smugly wonderful like a 1 percenter who can afford a Peloton.

12:30 pm: Back to “work.” We don’t call it work here. We call it “dream fulfillment.” Sitting in an ergonomic chair ignoring urgent emails and back-to-back meeting invites because I’m in back-to-back meetings about making meetings more productive is both a) what my Nobel laureate parents dearly hoped for me because they’re sarcastic; and, b) what my life-tested celebrity college commencement speaker, Harvey Weinstein (pre-#MeToo), inspired me to pursue to pay off my $25,000 in student loans for my invaluable degree from Trump University.

1–5 pm: Since my automated job and avoidance of meetings leaves me nothing to do, I spent the afternoon shopping for discounted stuff online offering free returns, ghosting Facebook friends and real ones, and not worrying about the nagging existential pain of a life bereft of meaning or any reason to greet the day.

For the love of Mike, I don’t get real sleep, eat real food, wear real clothes, follow real news, have a real job, buy real stuff or even drive my own goddamn car. What have I become? By letting robots take over my life, am I now the robot? Simply following what the robot algorithms tell me to do? Is artificial intelligence smarter than mine? Is machine learning better than mine? Is my mind pondering this imponderable stuff because I’m drifting off into an ergonomic chair work nap, perchance to dream of “working” from home, at least on Fridays?

6:30 pm: Off to dinner with my Facebook friends and also real friends I’ve ghosted, so alone again, naturally. While it’s lonely to be alone, I’m cheered by recalling President Kennedy’s 1962 dinner toast to his assembled Nobel laureates, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

As a Millennial, that’s me to a T. Ok Boomer, whatever!

Celebrating my remarkable achievements yet to come, I order the perfectly grilled meatless dry-aged Porterhouse steak, medium rare, with baked potato formed from fermented bean paste and topped with the paleo, dairy-free butter alternative ghee. I can’t believe it’s not steak and potato with butter!

9 pm: While falling way behind on amazing Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Hulu, Amazon, Disney and other binge-streaming programs that depict life that’s realer than mine will ever be, I fall into an overwhelming content coma.

But before reaching for a paper book to tax my mind and cleanse my sensibilities, I ramped up my custom Sleep Number® setting to 11, took an Ambien, and slept perchance to dream like an android does about electric sheep.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.

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