When Mary slipped back to bed I went to my table. I wanted to write. My head felt very clear and other memories of my past came flooding in. Since I now had an infinity of lucid, waking time I decided to composed all I could remember of our early years, some four or five ago, when the first chips were being distributed, before we were moved into this unit. Such radical changes don't happen overnight. It was effected in increments. We were both graduate students at the university when it began, and deeply in love, living together in my small apartment near campus.
I remember when we were first given the chips, through two drops administered into each eye, the only change was to have a working cell phone in your head with all its apps, Google, ChatGPT, Zoom, all in our heads. Our teachers didn't realize it at first but it made going to classes and school in fact, pretty much pointless. I know I was one of the last to finish up my degree online. So did Mary.
We quit going to school and spent most of every day in my bachelor pad, gaming and talking all day with friends and strangers. Our necessary functions were built into the games, as prompts, so that we ate and slept and had sex within their context. This was necessary because with all our time free, and no responsibilities, many plunged deep into this ever more enriched non-stop gaming and needed reminders that they had bodies to maintain. Some were kept working inside their delusions and remained productive at the rare necessary posts to maintain our cities. Some managed the grids, maintained the mainframes, repaired machines like zombies in what was called a ‘Delta’ state, not noticing the slowly decaying environment, like people on autopilot, the far greater part of our mind wrapped up in a false world spreading out its tentacles around us like some octopus.
As with any new technology so sweeping in its changes there were always the naysayers, the ultra religious, the Amish, the Mormons, the Islamists, and also the conspiracy theorists thinking they were rejecting it. But they were easily sucked into that very web, with chips implanted in our food sending them into a dreamworld of their own imaginations. The interesting thing is that the only group to escape this ‘Net’ was born from a few of the very first developers who created it. I knew one of them personally and he kept me abreast of this fast changing future.
Not everyone was allowed the privilege of the chip right away. The elite in this post modern world were the first. The people who controlled the world, the people with status were given it with the most unlimited ranges and powers, cavorting at their whim in the most affluent Elysian fields, of banquets and beauties and lusts, where administrators rarely intruded.
The power structure of the world never really changed, nor the pecking order, nor the privileged monarchy, if you will. It was only in one little side alley of the new world metropolis where a few of my friends in chip research hacked out a little realm of their own, hidden and free, where only the still undosed masses could see from their own low vantage point of poverty and resentment and insignificance.
Access to the most pleasurable parts of the net was balanced with each individual's status and productivity. I lucked out with my last minute diploma and Mary with her PHD. Scholars rated one of the highest tiers. I suppose they considered us the smartest of mankind. With children, learning was repaid each day with hours of play and leisure.
For the lower classes, who maintained our infrastructures, our food, our housing and utilities and all our day-to-day necessities, there was no longer a paycheck. It was a chit, an electronic time pass, delivered on a daily or hourly basis, as you bartered off each unit of your work for access to your favorite dream.
A slow but steady shrinking occurred in our real world economy. But like the Internet before it, whole new industries sprang up overnight in the cyber world, employing millions. All trips, vacations, and leisure activities were now cyber. For the rich, trips were taken from beds, in new hospital-like facilities with their bodies nursed for weeks and months in a suspended state, serviced by nurses, while their minds raced through the most exotic, active, uninterrupted adventures.
Delivery services took over all shopping, all need for excursions. The lower echelons simply came and placed your necessities in your cupboards, often without you even noticing their visits, and all the while caught up in their own imaginary dreamscapes, not even aware of the services they were busy at.
As our virtual world became rich our real world turned fallow. People lost interest in cars or mansions or wardrobes. The malls closed as the virtual malls opened up. We were content to live in a drab outer world and houses decayed, with Spartan furnishings, a gray world where we spent less and less time and mind.
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