I had a really weird dream Tuesday night and felt it needed a place in the totally out there dream archive. I think my brain decided it was time to brew up a thought soup, and this was the result.
It started off with me watching a TV show about this girl who was graduating high school and was getting ready to go to university. She found out about this app that had some kind of implant that she had to put in her eye. Once it was in, she could interface more directly with her phone and do more multi-tasking. I think she could just place items in her calendar by thinking about them. Notes would appear in the air in front of her and she could read them out of the air. She could do wicked multitasking and she felt like a superhuman.
Then, suddenly I wasn’t watching the show anymore. I had become the main character in the show. Notes would appear in front of me in the air, but they were Braille. The implant had become a blind person helping app, transcribing images of restaurant menus before I got there, doing GPS maps in front of my face, that sort of thing.
Sometimes, unnerving things would happen, like I would think about someone and then my phone would pop up a dialog asking if I would like to call, text, Facebook message or WhatsApp the person I was thinking about. I would think about going somewhere and my phone would ask if I would like an Uber right now to get there. It felt a little bit out of control.
One morning, I was at home and my mom noticed that there appeared to be a giant wading pool outside and wondered where it came from. I said I must have wished for one and my crazy new app must have built it. My parents were blown away, and everybody decided to go check it out. The next day, my brother commented that there was a cool-looking drone fluttering around outside near the pool, and he suggested that we go play with it. Everybody headed out to play outside except me for some reason. It was then that the app decided to pop up unbidden with a dialog that freaked me out. It simply said “You have some defects.” Against my better judgment, I clicked the button to learn more. It said something like “A diagnostic test has been performed and several defects have been detected in your body. Would you like me to fix them?” There was a list of defects, most of which I knew about and a few I didn’t. There was also a question of how I wanted them changed. There was an option to make them worse. I stared at the dialog, and then got that prickly feeling and hit cancel.
After the rest of the family came in from the pool, I told mom about it and said I was uncomfortable with what the app had asked. I thought maybe the developers of the app would make me feel like I owed them something, and it was all a setup where somewhere down the road, all the users of the app who had been healed could be asked to do some job and would feel obliged to say yes because they would feel indebted to them. Mom thought maybe this was the case and said I was smart to refuse.
A few days later, I was walking somewhere. I might have been at work, I might have been in a school, but all at once I felt like I was being followed, and inside my head, clear as a bell, I heard the strains of “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford.
It got louder and louder as I ran up the stairs, tried to skip around corners and evade whoever this person was, but eventually, he caught up to me. For some reason, he would only speak in whispers.
“I am from the app,” he whispered. We have been watching you, and we are perplexed. You have been offered the chance to see, to no longer require your medications, to be free of any imperfections and you have turned it down. We would like to know why. We would like to encourage you to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity. We do this out of love.”
I told him that the app was very handy, but sometimes it was doing a little too much guessing at what I wanted, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to fix me. I don’t remember the whispering fellow doing much reasoning with me. He just kept urging me to hit the “Fix all defects” button, and telling me that he would stay with me until the process was complete and I would love the result. I eventually got frustrated and asked if I could have the implant removed because I had decided I had had enough. He obliged, and the device was sucked out of my eye.
The dream fast-forwarded and I was sitting with some other friends and we were all talking about the year ahead. One of them said that she knew someone who was going to this super high tech university, and everybody who went was encouraged to get this new app that would help them take notes with their mind and multitask and be this ninja student, at which point I started screaming, sure that I was correct that the developers were trying to amass an army of willing participants for some job down the line…and the dream ended.
What in the actual hell was that?
Strangely enough, I think I know where most of that stuff came from, but boy, did I ever create a masterpiece.
The implant in the head that talks to smartphones comes from so many Black Mirror episodes. It really reminded me of “Nosedive” when he sucked the device out of my eye.
That splorching sound at the beginning of the clip is exactly what you think it is. If you want DVS, it’s probably not on YouTube.
The idea of the app proactively offering me things kind of reminds me of things Groupon or Spotify does at creepily opportune times. Sometimes Groupon will offer me a deal on hot air balloon rides after we have simply talked about getting a ride for someone as a present, for example. Or, I will worry about my weight or my teeth, and Groupon will offer me teeth-whitening or weight loss-related deals. Spotify has a tendancy to play a song we’re thinking about. Steve and I often joke that our house is bugged…and before someone says it, this came before the Google Mini came along.
I definitely think Aira wormed its way into my dream, especially at the part where the device was reading menus and stuff. But where it definitely influenced the dream was when the whispering man showed up and was offering to help me understand the opportunities the app could provide for me. It was a very twisted version of a program that Aira is trying to create where avid users help people who haven’t used as much of their minutes have more success with it. There was a time where I wasn’t sure how these pairings were happening, and I think it got a little bit misrepresented and sounded like people who weren’t using as much time were being paired with people without their asking to be paired. I think it’s more that the offer is there if people are feeling like they’re not getting the full potential out of an expensive service, but my mind decided to put a nightmarish spin on it.
I think the idea of my family playing with a pool constructed from nothing, and thinking the drone buzzing around said pool was a great toy represents the ability of technology to sneak into our lives and many of us being more accepting of it than we should be until we smash into some unintended consequence.
As for the thing about curing all my imperfections, I think it comes from reading a weird and kind of disappointing book called the gift by Dave Donovan, in which some representatives from an alien race can cure people of their physical limitations. I thought the book was kind of meh, but I guess it went into the soup. But the idea that you could make your imperfections worse comes from that Body Integrity Dysphoria that some people have, and actually give themselves a disability.
As for the “Sixteen tons” song, it’s been playing on that wacky radio station we like to listen to in the mornings. When the station started playing it, it made me think about being in Grade 4 and learning the ukulele and how cool my teacher was, because he taught us that song. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was definitely a fun, cool guy. Just imagine listening to a bunch of 9-year-olds belting out “St. Peter, dontcha call me, ’cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store,” and you get the picture.
And the last bit, the bit about a whole university getting implants reminded me of The “Outer Limits” episode called “Straight and Narrow”. I haven’t watched that episode in years, but my brain coughed it up anyway.
I don’t know why my brain decided to process all those thoughts, but there it is. Hopefully your dreams were much more pleasant that night.