In the cold, strange atmosphere of this planet we called Earth I sat in the stupor we had all come to regard as 'normal.'
A disease had struck humanity.
People no longer had any want or need to communicate with each other on any personal level. The electronic landscape consumed the human psyche like a digital tidal wave. Children no longer played in yards. The world existent outside their windows fell tragically to the world inside their heads.
The internet was supposed to save the world. It was supposed to revolutionize the American economy and revive a dying country. Instead what we got was a four-figure jerk-off box. This sort of technology could have ultimately helped create self-sustaining utopias, perhaps even ended world hunger. But instead we found ourselves white-knuckled with lust while our husbands or wives were out of the house or sleeping. The sexual landscape had changed so drastically that it was no longer a singular act between two people but rather a repeatable equation applicable to almost anything. We literally fucked machines. The pornography epidemic was nature's way of alerting us to a threat of extinction. Nature was telling us to breed, or to die.
The least of our worries was the Atomic Bomb. It was the social network that had caused the end of the world. People became more inclined to communicate via electronic device. They became content to stay in their homes experiencing friends and family digitally through pictures and textual communication. Reality became something existent inside their heads. It became another world; an elaborate fantasy where man could act out his most sexual of desires. It became a stage, alone on which the individual stood to battle with their own existence. They stopped caring about the analog world around them. The onset of this sick digital psychosis within the human brain did not lead us into salvation but rather into a dark pit of damnation and sin where we remained until the end of days, stupefied.
It wasn't until I met Audrey Clemens, who I believe to have been my doppelganger, that this became all so clear.
I met Audrey in high school. But that wasn't when I truly met her. I met her a number of years later and she was to share with me my last glimpse at humanity.
We began talking on a social networking site to which we both belonged.
“We aren't so different, you and I.” she said into the other end of the telephone line.
“What do you mean?”
“You will see." she replied.
She laughed from the other side.
“I think the world is going to end.” she said.
“Oh yea?” I replied. What a silly thing to think; that this could end.
We spent two days together before moving in with each other. At the time we thought it to be young love that caused our quick-handed affair of the hearts. It wasn't until the end of our relationship that I realized that something much more complex was occurring somewhere off in the cosmic ocean.
The glow of the LCD computer screen illuminated Audrey's face. The dark circles under her eyes were an artist's rendition of the state of the human race. Like a futuristic Mona Lisa, her dark, dyed black hair shined under the luminescent essence of her alternative world.
“I think I'm going to buy a new purse.” she declared proudly.
“Why?” I asked, my tone redolent with distaste.
“Because I need one.”
“No. You don't.”
“Well I want one.”
“That doesn't mean you need one though.”
I began seeing large similarities in the way Audrey and I conducted ourselves and our lives. She was compulsive, like myself. We both spent money beyond our means. We both smoked cigarettes; forever telling ourselves we are going to quit. We often talked of doing things and taking action of some sort, in regards to something. However we both seemed to sit, complacent with our own mediocrity.
We shared similar compulsions, yes, but it was a sickness I would soon find out that lay inside our heads.
“What?” I said, averting my attention away from the television set.
“What?” she said back to me.
“I wasn't paying attention to what you were saying.” I said, as she continued on, like an illuminated god, reigning over her increasingly digital domain.
“I think the world is going to end.” she said.
“Oh, I see.” I said, drawing my attention back to the television screen.
We, like most of humanity, were similar in the sense that we only cared about ourselves, about our own thoughts and were content to only talk about ourselves. We were all stuck in our own apocalyptic heads.
As I studied us and our own pathologies I noticed the compulsions that we shared were both similar and increasing in severity; that our condition was not only representative of us but most of the world.
We, as a collective whole, were disoriented. We saw the world as a distorted image. We saw it as a place to entertain ourselves, fuck, and most enjoyably, shop.
I noticed within us the almost automatic need to spend money. It was the last night we would be living together. We lived in a small studio apartment up north on the east coast. We decided to part ways because of the disease, as I soon began calling it.
“That $170 dollars was refunded.” Audrey said while checking her online bank account .
She had left her debit card at a store the week prior and an employee racked-up $130 worth the porn and $40 in gas.
“Good.” I said. “You were just saying that you had no money.”
“Let’s go shopping.” she said with exuberance.
“But I thought we decided to go hiking.” I said. “And you just got done complaining how you never have any money.”
“I know. But I really want to buy myself a Christmas present.” she replied. “Are you mad?”
“No. It’s fine.” I said.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yes.” I answered.
The florescent glow of the department store sign was magic in her dark brown eyes.
The consumer landscape was more of an infrastructure where the advertising companies dictated the human psyche. No longer did we govern ourselves by basic logic but rather according to what we were told to do.
And what we were told was to consume.
I watched the people at the checkout. One by one the parasitic virus that called themselves the human race stood in line to purchase their momentary pieces of happiness. And they happily waited in line to pray to their made-in-China gods.
“Do you like this dress?” Audrey said, pulling me away from gawking in wonderment at that car crash that was now the human organism.
“It's fine.” I said.
I watch them as they are herded like cattle in the electronics department.
I gaze at our mighty race as they claw at each other for the remaining lap tops on sale for $179.95.
The week prior I had been in the same spot returning a television I had compulsively bought.
The wall of televisions behind them, in giant letters - unknown to them - read:
"NUCLEAR ATTACK ON NATION'S CAPITAL. WASHINGTON HAS BEEN DESTROYED'
“I think it's the end of the world.” Audrey said, who I didn't realize was standing next to me.
“Looks that way.” I said.