Shana stepped away from her monitor. She looked out the window to a generic wasteland somewhere in Silicon Valley. Behind her, millennial work colleagues dressed in ugly and absurd Christmas sweaters played foosball and ping pong and constantly held up the action to Instagram their fashion choices. Perry Como crooned carols from tiny speakers. It was nine in the morning and three weeks before Christmas.
She stared at a mirror near the monitor. There was nothing there, not even a sly suggestion of her true Dorian Gray self.
Who was she? Well, for one thing she was a multimillionaire at age 27. Her parents were Silicon Valley pioneers but died when she was in high school while attending a yoga retreat on a remote volcanic island. The volcano erupted and entombed them in lava.
Shana owned a condo in Oakland and a fancy car where she sat in the back seat and told it where to drive her. She had no family, real friends and no real personal life outside of her various assignations with married men and women arranged on her phone with the swipe of a thumb.
It was time to kill herself and why not during the holiday season? It might garner a few more sad emoticons on social media once word got out, so, naturally, she wouldn’t close her accounts.
Shana went to her phone and downloaded an app that assisted in filing a perfectly legal will. She left everything to an animal shelter that was a few blocks from her condo, one she had never visited. Shana completed the will in seconds and sent it to the cloud.
As for work obligations, well, nobody really worked at her workplace so nobody would probably notice.
What passed for work these days in the Brave Instant World? Shana had majored in journalism at an elite university but had never written a news article. News was dead. Her first job was working for a digital start up whose business was to sabotage attempts at unionization by workers in the digital economy. She didn’t really know what a union was, but was successful at crushing organizing efforts through old fashioned gas lighting using newfangled tools.
After a year, (or was it two?) Shana got bored at union busting and went to work at another digital start up, this one out to destroy the belief that public education should actually involve face-to-face interaction between teachers and pupils. Management put her in charge of overseeing a plantation of Indonesians to produce a flashy online curriculum that was 99-percent rote and guaranteed to raise graduation rates, not to mention anti-social behavior.
Shana walked out of the office and onto the street. She had texted her car before leaving and it was waiting for her.
She got in and asked the car to play a suicide playlist. The car told her there were three million choices. Shana told the car to choose, but then changed her mind and asked for a Christmas-themed one. Music started playing. The first song was by the Red Hot Chili Peppers—“We Three Kings.” Shana also asked the car to turn on the television and find the Hallmark Channel. Mingle all The Way came on. She was as good as dead.