I’ve spent most of the day staring hollowly at my computer screen. People calling for my boss keep asking me how I’m doing, and I really wish they wouldn’t, because that’s not a conversation for the phone. I’m so glad I get to see my parents in a couple weeks and hug them. I sent virtual hugs to my writing group this morning.
Are you watching Westworld? I really like it. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise (why are so many people unfamiliar with the premise of an HBO show based on a movie from 1973?), it’s about a super high-tech theme park in the future where you can pay, like, $10,000 a day to go pretend you’re in the old west. The theme park is populated with robots who look and act human (and think they are human) and can take you on an adventure looking for buried treasure or whatever, but also, because they are robots and not people, you are allowed to rape and kill them. The problem is that the robots are slowly becoming self-aware. This past week, one of the robots who’s becoming self-aware woke herself up during maintenance, freaked out the technician, and demanded to know more about herself. He explained that everything she said or thought or did was part of a complex computer program, but she didn’t believe it. So he brought up the program that governed her speech and showed it to her on his tablet. She watched her words appear on the screen just before she said them. She kept trying to get ahead of it, unable to comprehend that everything that she thought she knew was wrong, until her programming froze up and she needed to be rebooted. That’s how I felt watching the news last night and this morning. Everything I thought I knew about myself, my country, how life works in a first-world, modern-day society, was just proven wrong. I keep trying to get ahead of it and I just can’t. I’ve reached the part where I keep getting the urge to laugh, but I can’t explain why. Nothing’s funny.
On Facebook, I said this:
This country has done evil things before. We remain the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons on an enemy. McCarthyism, internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, marital rape not being a crime until 1993, and let’s not forget about the fact that it was founded on slavery and genocide. None of those things destroyed the country. But we carry the scars and wounds today. Some still fester.
It feels like we just lost a drunken bar bet, and now our buddy gets to shoot us anywhere in our body. He’s probably not going to kill us. But the wounds are likely to be permanent.