© Copyright 2005 Kurt Snyder
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The next day, Friday, August 6, 1999, I stayed at my apartment for most of the day.
Sometime in the afternoon, I started to marvel at the explosion of the internet--how in such a short amount of time it has changed the way people live and communicate. Clearly, the internet phenomenon rapidly expanded because of the invention of the hypertext language, and the coincident invention of browser software. This revolution in technology was unforeseen 50 years ago. I wondered how the internet would improve and change over the next 50 years. I wondered whether something even more spectacular would come into existence. How much faster would computers become? How much more powerful would memory storage devices become? Over the last fifty years, the amount of addressable memory and speed of computers has increased by a factor of a million. I started to wonder what kind of capability we might have in 50 years if we could improve by another factor of a million. We could have video games and virtual reality worlds that are almost indistinguishable from reality. This assumes that monitor and projection technology would also improve by a factor of a million. Imagine a projector, projecting an image into your eye that equals the resolution of your retina.
I also wondered if, in the distant future, data devices could be developed that would feed data directly to your brain, bypassing the need for receiving information through your 5 senses. My thoughts reminded me of the film 'The Matrix'.
I doubted that a computer could ever produce anything equal to the complexity of the universe. Somehow the virtual environment would fail to duplicate everything in the real world. On the other hand, I thought, if someone was raised from birth in a virtual environment, how would they know what the real world was like? They would think their virtual world was the real world. But, a virtual environment couldn't be maintained forever without it breaking down at some point. Accidents happen. Mistakes happen. No environment is perfect. Even a virtual world would be affected by external events. Nothing in the universe can exist in a closed system. However, I also thought, perhaps a lot of investment could be put into safeguarding such a system. A person could be maintained in a virtual environment where the equipment generating the environment had backup systems that were protected from adverse events. Still, all equipment must exist on a maintenance schedule if it is to operate reliably. Eventually, the equipment would have to be shut down for maintenance. A person existing in a virtual environment would notice when the equipment was shutdown, wouldn't they? Maybe not. What if the maintenance was performed when they were unconscious?
I go to sleep every night. Generally, I am a very deep sleeper. I am usually completely unaware of anything that happens while I am asleep. What if I actually existed in a virtual world? There could be equipment far more powerful than my wildest imagination which is attached directly to my brain and is generating a virtual world that I think is the real world. Maybe that is the truth. What if THEY are the people who were monitoring me in this virtual world. That would explain how THEY can keep track of me all the time. That would explain why I feel like I am always under surveillance. What if the REASON I fall asleep is because THEY have to do maintenance on the equipment that generates my virtual world? Even worse, maybe I don't really have a body or a brain at all. Maybe my whole existence is just some computer program running on some highly sophisticated equipment that I could never understand. Maybe nothing I know to be real is actually real. Maybe.
How could I prove that I was in a virtual world? I decided that the virtual world could not exactly mimick the real universe. The real universe will always be larger and more complex than any subsystem within the universe. I decided this must be a universal truth-It must be a universal law. No subsystem can operate with the same complexity of the system that contains it. Second, using similar reasoning, I decided that no subsystem in the universe could have total knowledge or control of the system that contains it. This would mean that the real universe would eventually affect the virtual world in unexpected ways. A virtual world can not be maintained without being affected by something from the outside. What does all this mean? It means that if I was living in a virtual world, there must be flaws in it that I can test. If the system that generated my virtual world were anything like a computer, then there would be bugs in the software. Of course, if I existed myself as only a program in some sophisticated computer, then my own thoughts themselves might be subject to bugs. I decided that I should monitor my own thoughts for irregularities or inconsistencies. I also decided that if I ever saw anything that was 'impossible', that would be an indication of a bug in the virtual software-it would be evidence that I was living in a virtual world. Also, things might happen to my virtual world as a result of influence from the 'real' universe. If for example, the equipment which generated the virtual reality used something like 'electricity', then there might be power outages or power surges that I would notice from time to time. These 'power fluctuations' might manifest themselves as unusual events like seeing bright lights or experiencing a blackout. Also I thought, if I had lived my whole life in a virtual world, then I might not know how the real universe actually worked. There might be a fixed set of laws by which the virtual world operated, which I had grown accustomed to. But the more complex laws of the 'real' world might be more elusive. I may have been sheltered from these laws.
I did not immediately believe any of these ideas were true, but I did not disbelieve them either. I maintained in my mind that they might be the truth.
I was having all these thoughts when my aunt Lynda called me. She lived about 15-20 minutes away. She was inviting me over to her house to eat crabs. I drove over to her place immediately. On my way there, I was in a trance. I was still thinking about virtual reality and the possibility that the universe I knew was not real. When I got to her house, we immediately sat down to eat. As I sat at her kitchen table, I was still wondering whether I was living in a virtual reality or not. While I was eating, my perception of my own body became distorted. I started to feel like my mind was physically separated from my body. I started to believe that I was somehow perceiving the world from a remote location, that I was not actually sitting at a table in my aunt's house. I felt like my mind was becoming aware of a different universe...the universe where I actually existed, not the virtual one. This was not simply an idea in my mind. I was experiencing some kind of altered perceptual state that affected my senses. I was having something like an out-of-body experience.
I thought, "If this is not my real body, what kind of body do I really have?" Maybe in reality I was some other type of creature, far different than the human being I have believed myself to be all these years. I believed that any minute, I was going to become fully aware of the 'real' universe, and my 'real' existence. I thought I might exist in some kind of horrible laboratory, strapped to a virtual reality machine. Maybe I was a prisoner, forced by some kind of alien creatures to participate in an experiment for my entire life. Maybe I was actually an alien of some sort too. Perhaps I was not the human being I had seen in the mirror all these years. I looked down at the crabs I was eating. I thought, "Maybe I am actually a crab, or some kind of crustacean. Maybe I am being forced to eat my own kind as part of some sick simulation." How disgusting. What a horrible thought! I stopped eating the crabs for a little while.
My Aunt then said to me, "What's the matter with you?"
"What do you mean?"
"You have this strange look on your face. What's wrong?"
"Oh, I don't know...nothing."
At about this time, I began to hear clicking noises. These were different clicking noises than the ones I heard on my phone line. They had a slight metallic sound. They did not seem to be coming from the real world (which I had experienced all my life), nor did they seem to be inside my head. They sounded like they were coming from some other place. I thought I was becoming more aware of noises in the 'real' world (where I was hooked up to a virtual reality machine). The clicking noises must be sounds from the equipment. I began to feel despair, fear, and anxiety that I was about to discover a reality far different from the one I knew. I was horrified that everything I knew--my family, my friends, my life-were not real. I thought, "Do I really want to know the truth? Do I really want to experience the 'real' world?" I thought my life until this time was pretty good. Did I want to leave my good life, and experience the reality that I was the subject of some kind of experiment? No. I decided, I don't want to accept that. I'm not going to let this happen. It would be better to continue my virtual life, unaware of the 'truth'. I decided, I must have some faith that the world I know really exists. I must believe my real life to have meaning, to have existence. I have to have faith in that. Within a few seconds after this thought, my perception returned to normal. My 'out of body' experience stopped. The clicking noises stopped. I felt normal again. I kept eating the crabs. Afterwards, I drove home.
The next day, on Saturday, August 7, 1999, I woke up in my apartment shivering with chills. I did not remember going to bed. I had never had a loss of memory in my entire life. I wondered if someone had given me drugs to influence my memory. I looked at the temperature gauge in the apartment. It was 73 degrees Fahrenheit. There was no reason why I should have the chills. I then recalled that shivering is sometimes a side effect of anesthesia. I tried to think about the night before. I could not remember anything after the crab feast. I could not remember driving home or going to bed. I became very suspicious. I did remember the strange sensory distortion and bizarre thoughts I had at my aunt's house. I thought, THEY must have given me some kind of hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs. Maybe I was on LSD. That would explain my strange perception and the crazy idea that I was in a virtual reality. Then, later, something else must have happened, but I just can't remember what. THEY must have accosted me and given me an amnesiac or anesthesia of some sort. That's why I woke up with the chills. Why would they do that? They must need some other information from me that they haven't gotten through their surveillance. Maybe they abducted me and gave me an interview. Maybe they searched through my apartment. I had come to the conclusion that they wanted to hire me for a position, but now I no longer trusted that judgment. What happened last night? I no longer trusted THEM. I thought my roommate Jim was probably with THEM. THEY must use him to get access to me. I thought, maybe they still do want to hire me for a position, but maybe they also have another agenda I don't know about. What kind of evaluation would require them to drug me? I thought I had still better preserve the 'evidence' on my computer.
I wondered if I had told them the name and password for picking up my computer at Best Buy. I had to get to the store as soon as it opened and retrieve my computer. I drove there immediately and waited for the store to open. Luckily, they still had my computer. I picked up the copied hard drives and I took both the drives and my computer to Woody's house where I decided to hide them in his basement. Woody had an alarm on his house, so I thought they would be safe there. I still trusted him.
I continued to think about why THEY would have drugged me and given me an amnesiac. Maybe they interviewed me. Maybe they gave me some kind of truth serum. Then, they should know everything they wanted to know. Maybe they are thinking about making me an undercover agent and sending me overseas. Maybe this was also part of the evaluation. I didn't know. I didn't trust them.
If I was going to be sent overseas as an agent, I thought I probably would be gone for years, maybe decades. I wondered if I would be willing to make that sacrifice for my country. Maybe I wouldn't get a chance to see my family anymore. I hadn't seen my brother's family very much that year. I decided I would go visit them that day. They lived about an hour away in Germantown, Maryland. I drove over there in the afternoon. I don't remember what else I did that day between the morning and the afternoon.
Sometime after I arrived at my brother's house, a family friend came by whom they had known for at least six or seven years, possibly longer. She was mostly a friend of my sister-in-law. Years ago, I had gone on a date with this woman, but I don't remember what we had talked about. She said to us, "I decided to come by at the last minute. I had other plans, but I just decided to change them so I could stop by here." I thought, "She decided to change them at the last minute? Why? Did she change her plans because of me?" Once again, I was experiencing the effects of personalization. I thought for some reason that her agenda had some personal connection with me. Suddenly, I thought, "She's with THEM!". I wondered how she could be involved with THEM. My brother and his wife (Denise) had known her for years, long before I ever worked at Iridium, long before I felt like people were watching me, long before I thought people were following me. I wondered how long the surveillance project could have been going on. When did it start? Maybe it started years ago, long before I was aware of it.
I became convinced that this family friend was with THEM. Because this woman was mostly Denise's friend, I wondered, "Was my brother's wife involved?" When I got the chance to be alone with this woman, I thought I would ask her an open-ended question to see what she would say. I said to her, "Does Denise know?" Of course I was referring to the surveillance project. She said point blankly, "No. Not at all. She doesn't know anything." A few minutes later, she came back to me and said, "Actually, I'm not sure what you were talking about." Then, she mumbled something I couldn't comprehend. I thought, "Now she's trying to backtrack. She should've feigned ignorance the first time. Now she's trying to confuse me." I became even more convinced she was part of the surveillance team, but I continued to wonder how this could be true. After a short time, she left. I was unconvinced that my sister-in-law was not part of the surveillance effort. Maybe the surveillance team is following me for some very important reason that I do not know. Maybe they recruit people close to my family to try to get more intelligence. Maybe they recruited this family friend. Maybe they recruited my sister-in-law.
© Copyright 2005 Kurt Snyder
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