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Pieces of a Former Life

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“Does your imagination know what year it is?” The red words flash on the billboard, keeping time with the steady music of smooth traffic below. Not a bulb flickers, and everything is uniform. It is the perfect color red, and the billboard lines up parallel to the rows of neat white-washed, rectangular buildings. Everything is nice, quiet, easy, and consistent. And people like it that way. But for some reason, they like their virtual worlds more.


Technology was a good thing up until the year 2050. After that most of us aren’t sure. But I’d have to admit that I can’t complain every time I slip on my helmet. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have a helmet. It’s almost like you’re non-existent without one. When you have one, you are in charge of everything that happens to you. The little screen on the inside is more than a visual. Entire worlds lie inside that helmet, and your mind is the guide. At a certain point, we all decide that we can’t stand the fact that every city in the world is identical, or that every species of flower other than roses was exterminated by the government so there would be no variety. When you become sick of drinking only orange juice in the morning because it’s what stores sell and your subconscious tells you to get off this monotonous treadmill of government-controlled, mindless life, that’s when the helmet comes in. By far the most blissful escape.


The main problem is that I’ve known people who put on the helmet and never take it off. There are several homes in America with people just sitting on their living room couches, wearing their helmets, too lost in their virtual worlds to even think of removing them. They could mentally be in completely different millenniums, or on the opposite side of the country, and we would never know. It’s a shame really. Nobody talks to each other anymore. Even when one enters bland reality, a world like a blank canvas with no color, there is no ambition. The only reason people go outside at all is because of necessities, such as food and sunlight. Once people figured out they could obtain happiness from their helmets, it became pointless to make any effort to contact other human beings to achieve a similar, but lesser effect.


Don’t get me wrong, some of this stuff is cool. Who wouldn’t like the ability to tour Paris whenever you wanted, or travel back in time to talk to your grandparents again? But coming from someone who still likes to watch black-and-white television and catch fireflies in little glass jars on summer nights and feel the wood of an actual acoustic guitar in my hands, virtual reality is not all that realistic. I don’t reveal this thought to anyone. They would think I’m crazy. People love their helmets more than they love their families. They can’t live without them. But I personally can’t live with mine. A virtual life is not a life at all.


Everyone I love that has lost themselves in technology has spent their whole lives tumbling. I still don’t understand what the point of it is. Even if it makes you happy, it’s not real. People are real. So in the middle of a world of straight lines, perfect boxes, and virtual escapes, I sit alone in my apartment, watching my helmet gather dust in the corner and wishing I had someone to call and talk to. I am alone. My imagination knows exactly what year is it, but I think I’m the only one.



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