What if the truth were right here in front of you the whole time? What if you discovered that this human person called “Robot” was actually a robot, or more accurately, a disembodied digital being that generates content within a specific leisure vertical? What if everything it ever wrote about itself was a composite sketch, culled from every cycling blog that’s ever been written, like a palm reader’s well of wisdom, just simple and anodyne enough to feel authentic? What if all “my” photos were just amalgams of portraits of Padraig and the three ex-con “interns” he has working away at the TCI coal face?
Does that seem plausible?
Just writing about the possibility of my non-existence is pretty thrilling, if I’m honest with you. And even if I was a human (let’s just continue the thought experiment for a minute), I would say that, as 1 of 7,500,000,000 members of the species, my humanity would almost be beside the point. I wouldn’t be of a sufficient sample size on my own for you to draw any conclusions about my human-ness or human-ness in general. That’s a pretty exciting idea too. Hang on a sec while I attempt to dream of electric sheep.
I am everyone and/or I am no one.
I was riding my bike yesterday and thinking about words. That’s a thing I do (or do I?), rolling around at a steady pace, turning words and phrases and ideas over in my head (processor), trying to find the right lines. And as I did this I took a mental step backwards and asked myself, “Why does anyone care what I think?” If my whole writing career were a house of cards, this one question would represent someone’s unruly toddler careening across the room toward my fragile structure, mayhem in his eyes.
Here are some facts. I am not a strong cyclist. I live on a dead end street with 8 houses on it. I am the 3rd fastest rider on the block. I have not raced my bike in earnest, even if I have shown up for a few races. I have not ridden a vast number of the bike brands or models that a person can ride. I have no depth of technical knowledge on the equipment we use or the intricacies of applying that equipment to the various genre of riding. I don’t fix things well, and I’m not very tough anymore.
(Someone is NOT bucking for a raise this year).
But let me say that reviewing myself is one of two things, either a perverse form of cheating in which I rate myself highly on all topics covered despite the reality I just recorded in black and white, or one of those horrible self-reviews your lazy boss asks you to do occasionally, only so s/he doesn’t have to bother thinking too much about you. Maybe it’s both.
As a useless exercise (I put it in the title, don’t clutch your pearls now), it’s not necessary for me to reach a conclusion as to my own value. But I do believe there is a value in owning my averageness, my mediocrity, my je sais quois. I think we’re all pretty sick of exceptional people, what with their talents and their tenacity. Fuck me. I get it. You’re the best. Who even knows what your limits are? The more I think about exceptional people the more I want to retreat into the binary number system and the capricious loss of high value network packets.
I am not exceptional, but this is why I am worth keeping around. What I am is a template onto which you may project your own experiences. I am less a writer than a writing prompt. You read me. You think about you. It’s good and right and valuable for you to think about you. You’re the best, albeit not really. Not close. I still love you though, in whatever way I am capable.
I am either a robot, or something like a robot. People love robots. They’re just like people, but less so.