One day a new type of phone that you could use to call yourself appeared on the market. All one had to do was dial a certain number and one would be connected straight away with oneself. The quality of the reception was so good that the voice on the other end of the line sounded as if it was coming from the very same room. Inevitably, there was some initial apprehension about using this phone, for no one quite knew what kind of a response they would receive when they rang themselves out of the blue for the very first time. What if their unexpected call was considered to be an impertinent and unforgivable invasion of privacy? Eventually, these fears subsided as most found that they were greeted with warmth and enthusiasm and their calls were seen as a pleasant surprise.
People rushed to purchase this new invention, which was marketed under the brand name “mePhone”. Suppliers could not keep up with the demand and there were ugly scenes as customers fought amongst themselves for the last available mePhone. For the mePhone to work properly certain procedures, as set out in the Owner’s Manual, had to be followed. First, the reception only worked in particular areas, access to which required an extra fee. Second, there was a strict time limit on how long you could spend speaking with yourself. And third, when using the mePhone, one had to wear special, rather cumbersome apparel that was sold separately from the phone. Also, the cost of a call was outrageously expensive, although some enterprising phone companies, hoping to capitalise on the popularity of the mePhone, for a while only charged a local call rate. The high charge for using a mePhone was partly due to the technical complexities involved in establishing a connection, for there were many impostors who pretended, for their own twisted and devious reasons, to be the voice of your true inner self. Thus, a lot of specialist expertise was required to connect you to the real you. The biggest technical obstacle to overcome, however, was circumventing getting a busy signal when calling yourself, for if you were calling yourself then that meant you were already on the phone and thus your line must, ipso facto, be engaged.
So it was an astounding technological achievement that the creative wizards behind the mePhone were able to somehow surmount this seemingly unresolvable paradox and allow people to get through to themselves. How it was actually done remained, for obvious reasons, a tightly guarded industrial secret. There was speculation that it involved utilising the Many Worlds Quantum Theory, so that by using the mePhone a person was connected to themselves in another parallel Universe. However, the steep costs and other inconveniences were more than outweighed by the benefits one gained from having a good chat with oneself, for no one ever had the time to stop and take a good, honest look at their lives. Everyone was always rushing about, preoccupied with the mundane details of existence, trying to silence the nagging questions of whether or not they were happy with their lives and if they were being true to their inner selves. The users of the mePhone could now catch up with all the things in their lives they never had the chance to think about before, to find out the vital news that fell by the wayside as they were speeding along the road of life.
Conversation flowed easily as people found that talking with yourself was a lot like talking to an old confidant you hadn’t seen for a long time and with whom the most intimate matters could be discussed candidly. Not infrequently tears were shed as truths one had been hiding from oneself for many years were revealed and conveyed in forthright terms. Conversations gained a confessional aspect, as darkest secrets and problems known only to oneself were divulged openly over the phone lines. Quite often, surprises were lying in store as people discovered what they were really feeling inside. At other times, the voice on the other end of the line would remind you of your long-neglected dreams, of desires and needs you had suppressed for far too long. Many found out they weren’t really happy in their places of employment. Some realised they had fallen out of love a long time ago. Others saw for the first time that they had deluded themselves as well as others into believing they had reached fulfilment. Quite a few recognised that they had become so comfortable with being miserable and disenchanted that they shrank back in fear when contentment appeared to be within easy reach. And so it was an enlightening and cathartic experience to be able to have a deep and meaningful talk with oneself.
The mePhone became so popular that it turned into an obsession for some users who spent all their time listening to and talking with themselves, finding it to be much more satisfying and fascinating than conversing with others. Alas, for an unfortunate few, no matter how many times they tried, they just could not reach themselves on their mePhones; either no one would pick up the mePhone on the other end or if it was picked up, it would be hung up as soon as one said “hello” to oneself. In some cases, a connection could not be established due to the line being broken or the number always being engaged or disconnected.
The world became a better, happier place because of the mePhone as people at last began to be true to their own selves, for they knew they could no longer get away with lying to themselves. The way life had been before the mePhone was just a distant, faded memory and no person could imagine ever being without one.
BORIS GLIKMAN is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia. The biggest influences on his writing are dreams, Kafka and Borges. His stories, poems and non-fiction articles have been published in various online and print publications, as well as being featured on national radio and other radio programs. (Australian Times)
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Read it in the July Opal