Author: Tae Hyun Nam
It’s the year 4000. Automation has allowed for bountiful abundance in resources with minimal maintenance. Most people don’t need to work at all, so they have a lot of time on their hands. How do they fill this time, you ask? Perhaps spending time with loved ones? Maybe working on passion projects to share with the world? No. 99.999999999% of the population spend their lives in the DREAM interface.
The DREAM interface allows you to enter a fully immersive virtual world that the user can bend and shape to their will. A world where anyone can become a god. First, you are dropped in a hyperreal duplicate of the current universe, and from there, the world is your oyster. You can fly. You can have hot sex with anyone you see. You can create and destroy buildings with a thought. You can even fly while having sex, destroying buildings in the process. The perfect lucid dream. Any and every desire completed with a thought. With technology to automate the maintenance of the human body, everyone can stay in the DREAM 24/7, until they die.
Everyone except me. I am the only remaining human not in the DREAM. The human race has conquered the resource crisis, and now chill in their techno-utopian stupor. But they need a single human awake to make sure everything continues to run smoothly. Out of the roughly 100 billion people in this universe, of course it had to be me. I asked under what criteria I was chosen. Was I the most vigilant? The most virtuous? “Nah, it was just a random chance. Anyways, good luck!” People used to theorize that humans became more unhappy when they compared themselves with happy people around them. In that case, I must objectively be the unhappiest human alive because 99 billion people around me are literally enjoying heaven while I’m here at this desk looking at a computer monitor.
Despite my terrible luck, I’m honestly quite okay. I do work 16 hours a day, but I get 30 minute breaks every 4 hours. Because of the abundance of resources, I can create any food I want to eat for my lunch break. My favorite is Korean-style Fried Chicken. Soy Garlic flavor with extra spice. Perfect. Having to stare at a screen all day for absolutely nothing to change can be pretty boring, but I’m told people did this all the time back in the 21st Century. They didn’t even get chosen by lottery, they voluntarily participated in this activity. Anyways, today I feel more exploratory, so I’m going to have some Nepalese cuisine. It’s a mix of Chinese and Indian—
“Wake up!! Your time is up, sir.” The employee forcibly pulls the DREAM interface from my head. “We ran your credit card, and you no longer have enough money to afford our DREAM program.” I’m dazed and confused. I was just about to eat some delicious Nepalese- “That was the life you created, sir. A life with a sense of purpose, delicious food, and quiet solitude.” The security guards grab my arms and lift me off of the chair. They threw me out of the facility. I need to go back to my 9-to-5 job so that I can afford more hours on the DREAM machine. Back to the grind, I guess.