I spent a chunk of my day off yesterday in a dingy little tire shop waiting for winter tires with hordes of other Vancouver Islanders caught unprepared for our recent blast of winter. I passed the time, in part, by finishing off Douglas Coupland’s Player One: What is to Become of Us, a novel/lecture series characterized by Coupland’s customary mixture of bleakness, humour, and though-provoking storytelling around questions about the meaning of life and what it means to be human.
It’s a good and entertaining read in general, but perhaps the best part of the book is an appendix called “Future Legend,” where Coupland provides a list of terms for the future and their definitions. Here are a few of Coupland’s terms for your Tuesday edification and/or amusement:
Chronocanine Envy: Sadness experienced when one realizes that, unlike one’s dog, one cannot live only in the present tense. As Kierkegaard said, “Life must be lived forward.”
Collapse Attraction: The situation in which people are usually at their most attractive and interesting shortly before a total personality collapse.
Crazy Uncle Syndrome: Or, for that matter, Crazy Aunt Syndrome. One of the few genuine indicators for success in life is having a few crazy relatives. So long as you only get some of their crazy genes, you don’t end up crazy yourself—you merely end up different.
Deomiraculosteria: God’s anger at always being asked to perform miracles.
Deselfing: Willingly diluting one’s sense of self and ego by plastering the Internet with as much information as possible.
Frankentime: What time feels like when you realize that most of your life is being spent working with and around a computer and the Internet.
Ikeasis: The desire in both daily and consumer life to cling to generically designed objects. The need for clear, unconfusing forms is a means of simplifying life amid an onslaught of information.
Instant Reincarnation: Most adults, no matter how great their life is, wish for total radical change in their lives.
Intravincular Familial Silence: We need to be around our families not because we have so many shared experiences to talk about, but because they know precisely which subjects to avoid.
Lyrical Putty: The lyrics one creates in one’s head in the absence of knowing a song’s real lyrics.
Malfactory Aversion: The ability to figure out what it is in life you don’t do well, and then to stop doing it.
Mallproof Realms: Realms where shopping never happens. For example, Star Trek characters never go shopping. Also, universes that willfully exclude commerce.
Mechanics of Friends and Influence: The fact that people will like and respect you for no other reason than that you give the illusion of remembering their names.
Me Goggles: The inability to accurately perceive ourselves as others do.
Nanoexploitative Industry: Pretty much everything invented after the year 1900 is based on our knowledge of things that are incredibly tiny and processes that occur at subatomic levels.
Narrative Drive: The belief that a life without a story is a life not worth living—quite common, and ironically accompanied by the fact that most people cannot ascribe a story to their lives.
Omniscience Fatigue: The burnout that comes with being able to know the answer to almost anything online.
Pseudoalienation: The inability of humans to create genuinely alienating situations. Anything made by humans is a de facto expression of humanity. Technology cannot be alienating because humans created it. Genuinely alien technology can be created only by aliens. Technically, a situation one might describe as alienating is, in fact, “humanating.”
Random Sequence Buzz: The small, pleasant chemical reaction experienced in the brain when hearing the next song in a randomly sequenced finite song list.
Rapture Goo: The stuff that gets left behind. The fact that the only thing that really defines you is your DNA. Jesus gets your DNA. That’s all he gets, roughly 7.6 milligrams of you. All the blood and guts and undigested food and everything else within the ecosystem that is your body will simply grace the floor.
Rosenwald’s Theorem: The belief that all the wrong people have self-esteem.
Time Snack: Often annoying moments of pseudo-leisure created by computers when they stop responding in order to save a file, to search for software updates, or, most likely, for no apparent reason.
Time/Will Uniqueness: The belief that awareness of time and the possession of free will are the only two characteristics that separate humans from all other creatures.
And finally, my personal favourite:
Red Queen’s Blog Syndrome: The more one races onto one’s blog to assert one’s uniqueness, the more generic one becomes.
And now, having partially deselfed, I think it’s time for a Frankentime snack.