On Tuesday just gone my Volvo’s plip failed and I couldn’t get into the car. I was temporarily insensible, flummoxed, stabbing the lifeless plip at the door, peering helplessly in through the side windows with thoughts of vehicular infidelity. I deserved better, a vehicle that welcomed my approach, one that would let me in. I knew what that car was. Needing someone to blame I found myself looking skyward, not at God obviously but at the place above that is the basketball hoop of all frustration. Suddenly and with no humility I remembered that it was possible to open a car with the ignition key, like wot they done in olden times, and did so, dropping in behind the wheel and gazing up the road through the windscreen. As I looked a brand new Audi pulled out of a space ahead of me and I watched in amazement as it slowly approached, passed and disappeared in my rear vision. This was no ordinary Audi, this was an A6 Avant exactly the model, colour and spec that I was just thinking of as a fantasy replacement for my retirement age Volvo. I huffed at the cruel injustice of it all, doggedly started the car, drove down the lane at the rear of the shop and prepared to join the traffic. The first car that past me was another brand new Audi, then another in the opposite direction. I pulled out and drew up at the first set of traffic lights behind another Audi. This one was a mystery model and as I waited two more Audis past in front of us. By this time I was beginning to feel a little unsettled. Was I just super aware of Audis? The way I sometimes got with my tinnitus? Or were there genuinely Audis everywhere? The lights changed and the Volvo’s gearbox slipped before catching and I lurched across the intersection, braking a little to let an Audi in from my left, that one got me thinking. What if all these Audis were someone trying to make a point, trying to rub my nose in it. What if there really was a god?
Now when I say god I’m not thinking old testament, not beards or clouds, well beards maybe because the god I have in mind is a bit of a nerdy bird, not worthy of a capital g. You know the type, wispy goatee, eyes slightly too close together, beaky nose, way too focused, floating above his sofa, playing at me. I am thinking about a god of technology, a user god, someone whose life has little other occupation than to observe and manipulate mine, whose idea of fun is to torture his sim with unobtainable Audis. Tech would be my god’s holy ghost, a faith that fascinates me for its mysterious nature. I mean where does it come from? There was almost none before the nineties and then suddenly inexplicably it was everywhere. I know nothing about it and have never met anyone who does. Is it even real? Let’s face it if every smartphone was full of cream cheese you wouldn’t question it so long as it worked, you would just think how amazing cream cheese was. Technology in real life is no more explicable than technology in dreams, sometimes less so. I once dreamt that I expertly assembled a gold fob watch from pieces laid out on a white silken handkerchief which had my initials embroidered in the corner, except they weren’t my initials. I held the watch to my ear and was woken by the ticking. Dreams are little more than simulations but sometimes they are more informed than reality, which is odd, unless of course reality is also a simulation. You see? It would explain why I have always felt that there is nothing behind me until I look and why a sense of history makes me feel like I have been alive since before I was born and why when you wait for a late bus the wait seems to last forever but once the bus arrives the memory of the wait disappears entirely. Have you never wondered why allegedly skilled people are rarely ever observed doing anything skilful? Elon Musk anyone? Is it because the skills to create something don’t actually exist but the end result can easily be simulated? It’s like those puzzles you can find on news websites which seem impossibly hard and the answer you submit is always wrong but the stats state over sixty per cent of people got it right. Which people? Sixty per cent of people are smarter than me? I don’t think so.
Which raises a rather obvious point. I can’t be the only one. Everyone would have to be a sim, billions of us. I don’t mean like in the Matrix, we wouldn’t have cadaverous bodies stashed away somewhere supplying power for game play, we would just be code in a persistent massive multiplayer. Character herds and player nerds, all interacting and creating unimaginably dull complexity, compressing distance, space and time, none of which would exist as anything more than the gap between ones and zeros. How magnificently pointless, all human discovery predetermined, programmed, the Higgs Boson as nothing more than an Easter egg. It would certainly explain why life seems to have no plot, the gods of sim have no imagination, the guys who do the CGI write the script. I’m probably nothing more to my user than a deluded bot earning him experience points. It would account for all the repetitive work I do, my inability to rise above my circumstances and why I am only allowed to covet an Audi and not afford one. Unless of course he is just a bad player or worse a false god. In much the same way that I control sims in The Sims, the one who controls me may also be a sim and have his own beardy weirdy sim controlling his circumstances and so on up to some super advanced ancient society of very bored overlords who get to look out of a spaceship window at the real stars. Or maybe I’m just over-thinking the whole thing and there are lots of Audis in Brighton.