Wikimedia Commons

Year:          2055
Invention:    LifeBook
Purpose:     To record all moments of the user and post to social media in real time.
Ratio:         60:30:10 (60% pictures, 30% video, 10% audio)

Reset to default?

It was the fifth time that day that I was going through the settings of my LifeBook. Two hours since I had woken up and the app had not made a single post on my behalf. I had already received five calls from friends and family about my well-being. Panic was starting to set in. Ever since I had been configured in 2045, LifeBook had never failed to record my every moment. Sensors had been implanted at strategic points in my body, supported by an app that sourced data from every area of my life – my words, actions, meetings, feelings, activity on the web and in the offline world. Together, it was a Hyper Intelligent (HI) software that mapped and recorded the user’s life down to the last detail. But today, the app had let me down.

I rode to work in a daze, struggling to remember all the events that had occurred since morning. I wasn’t used to making an effort to recall anything at all. A number? An event in time? The name of a cafĂ© I’d visited? All I had to do was search my memory archive on LifeBook and it told me what I needed to know. Doctors have raised concerns about possible signs of deterioration of the human memory due to disuse but the makers of LifeBook have successfully refuted every accusation made against the HI software. I had never paid much attention to those reports either. But today, as I faltered while trying to recall what I had eaten for breakfast, I felt a twinge of unease.

When I reached the agency where I sell my skills (writing, research, sketching, voiceovers), my colleague Riya made a beeline for my desk. “I thought you’d dropped off the face of the planet!” I had seven new skill requests in my inbox. Having four different saleable skills helped. I shuddered as I recalled my parents narrate how in their time, everyone sold their skills to one buyer only and that too at the buyer’s terms. Mine was a seller’s world. And I commanded a pretty good price. “Yeah my LifeBook stopped working.” Riya’s eyes widened like saucers. “Are you serious? You do know that the software has never malfunctioned a single time since its launch?” I nodded wearily. I did know. And that was why if I reported it, I was afraid it would take really long to get resolved. “I’m hoping it’ll correct itself without any external intervention. I’m going to give it 24 hours.”

At tea break, all my colleagues (co-freelancers) discussed various items they had seen from the broadcast of each other’s LifeBooks. A dish someone had cooked last night. A broken-down vehicle this morning. A picture of a colleague’s baby. A joke someone had cracked yesterday. A sunrise someone captured today. I felt oddly left out. No one mentioned me at all. I felt stripped of all my consequence. Without my LifeBook, wasn’t I the least bit interesting? I slunk off to have my tea alone on the terrace. There were zero notifications on my phone. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram, Youtube, SoundCloud, Vimeo, Flickr – LifeBook hadn’t posted anything anywhere. On a normal day, I’d have at least four (non-identical) posts on every one of these websites. That was the frequency I’d set for my LifeBook – one post per platform for every hour. This was the lowest frequency possible. Most opted for at least four posts per hour but I’m a private person. Yet, for the first time in ten years, I felt lonely. I felt like no one cared about me. I felt – insignificant.

“I want you to create a sequel of the ad you wrote for me last month,” Nova Cosmetics, my second buyer for the day told me. My blood ran cold as I realized I had very little recollection of the ad copy I had written. LifeBook’s cloud storage device contained all the work I had created till date. Nobody used offline storage any more. I think my tagline had had something to do with identity but I wasn’t sure. “Would you happen to have a copy of that ad?” I asked hopefully. “We do. We will transfer it to your cloud.” Uh oh. “No, I’d prefer an email.” “Email?!” He sounded incredulous. LifeBook offered unlimited storage and you could send files directly to a certain folder in a person’s cloud. Also, it was synced to your sensors and app data, which made work easier. Nevertheless, I somehow convinced my buyer to send me an old-school email. If word got around that my LifeBook wasn’t working, business would suffer serious damage.

By evening, I was monumentally depressed. All my social media accounts were powered by LifeBook. So, not only was I shut out from the world, the world was also shut to me. I was done with the day’s work and for the first time in years, I contemplated doing something outdoorsy. All recreation was now at our fingertips. Workouts, jogging, walking – everything happened in simulated environments with the perfect air component levels, breeze and designated green components. HI devices allowed us to summon portable screens to watch the films of our choice or surf the Internet. Movie theatres had long since gone out of business. Hardly anyone ventured into the ‘Wild’ anymore – ungoverned, uncontrolled natural territory. But today, I felt like doing something vaguely dangerous. I was without my LifeBook. No one would ever have to know.

From atop a mountain that I had laboriously climbed over the last two hours, I looked down at the city, sparkling like a jewel in the amber glow of the setting sun. I felt weightless, nameless and timeless. There was no LifeBook to take a picture of that stunning view. No LifeBook to post about the sudden stillness in my heart. No LifeBook to record the sound of the wind at this altitude. No LifeBook to remind me this evening ever happened. But I was thankful for one thing – there was no LifeBook to capture the moisture slowly trickling down my face and into the grass, as I lay back to gaze at that stoic, starry night.