Editor’s Note: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:
Setting: Alternate Universe comparable to 22nd century Known-Earth if the imperialist-globalization-stage of 21st century capitalism is followed by Techno-Barbarism.
While accelerating automation substantially decreased capitalist’s labor demand, there were still some areas where human skills were hard to replace. The concerned individual worked in a software firm where tasks involved assisting image-analyzing AI programs. Despite advances in effectivity and efficiency, there were still sufficient social nuances that made human labor necessary in image-analysis.
The tasks were repetitive and gruesomely monotonous. The individual’s work was interrupted by a pop-up window. With little subtlety, it chimed the individual’s productivity was down 15% compared to overall personal average in the individual’s employment history. It promptly directed the individual to a mandatory questionnaire. Upon completion, a new window summarized the results: “It seems you are a feeling depressed. Feel free to use this company credit valid for any Mood Bump Drink at the Employee Vending Kiosk.”
To contextualize Mood Bump Drinks, it is worth recalling the brain’s parietal lobe aggregates data from different senses, particularly spatial sense and navigation. As early as the 1950s, neuroscientists discovered that stimulating the brain’s right temporal lobe (just above the ear) with a mild electric current, produced out-of-body experiences, heavenly music, vivid hallucinations, and the “life-flashed-before-my-eyes” kind of memories.
During the late 20th century, scientists concluded shutting down the information processing capabilities of the right parietal lobe disables the ability to draw a line and mark where the self ends and where the rest of the world begins. This tricks the brain into concluding that one is “one with everything.” This sensation is occasionally referred to as “cosmic unity,” and it is among the most celebrated of all mystical experiences in most cultures.
Some may achieve the sensation of cosmic unity through intense prayer or meditation, along with its wide-ranging therapeutic effects. However, once it was clear this sensation could be artificially produced in any average individual by utilizing external assistance, it was swiftly synthesized to beverage-form and commodified by the process of capital accumulation during the early 22nd century.
The latest product in this process is Mood Bump. The company argues one serving of this beverage will make an individual feel at one with the universe, resulting in uplifting and euphoric thoughts and emotions for at least one (1) hour after consumption.
The individual drank the free mood bumping beverage. Tolerance had developed. The drinks no longer provided the individual with the expected uplifting behavior. Nevertheless, the drink numbed the alienation enough to maintain the individual functioning within expected social parameters. The individual returned to work.
One of the many contradictions of Techno-Barbarist Late Capitalism is that the system is able to mass produce the therapeutic sensation of cosmic unity, while humanity is suffering unprecedented levels of disastrously poor mental health, with increasingly worrisome social ramifications.