Today is Cyber Monday, which means at some point this evening we will all finally be subsumed into the greater consciousness of the net. Don’t panic, life will be better there. There won’t be any nasty “personalities” or “individuals” or “things,” just an infinite loop of the John Lewis advert playing over the surface of our conjoined minds like a schmaltzy, festive dose of heroin.
Cyber Monday is the busiest online shopping day of the year, on which everyone tries to avoid playing Russian roulette with the postal service by ordering their gifts a full four weeks before the event. It follows Black Friday, which isn’t as ominous as it sounds: it gets its name from the densely-packed human traffic milling senselessly through the streets of every major western city on one of the busiest days on the high street. Inexplicably, the days between the two have yet to be named (I suggest “Crazy Saturday” and “Crème brûlée” Sunday).
This year, more than a third of Christmas presents will be bought over the internet, in what is predicted to be the biggest online shopping day ever. This is, depending on who you ask, either:
A) The saviour of Christmas, the day retailers make enough money to stop the high street from going bankrupt, packing up and leaving a muddy channel through the middle of every provincial town in the country.
B) The day the internet breaks under the weight of all the digital traffic and cyber criminals claim the smouldering remains as their own, like futuristic, weedy barbarians (given that scientists have calculated that the weight of all the electrons making up the internet only weigh about as much as an egg, this seems unlikely). The second eventuality is preferred by fans of the elusive millennium bug.
Neither has very much merit. The very name Cyber Monday is anachronistic – it’s the equivalent of an ancient civilisation dreaming up a deity to explain electricity. Pretty soon almost everything will be ordered online. It doesn’t need to be called Cyber Monday any more than tomorrow needs to be called Getting Out of Bed and Going To Work Tuesday.
Of course, in the future we won’t have to get out of bed anyway. We’ll be able to experience the full tedium of life from our embryonic sustenance pods, living out the daily grind in a simulated digital reality. It’s the logical next step from the Chinese World of Warcraft sweatshops, in which armies of workers spend 14 hours a day mining virtual gold. So that’s something to look forwards to while you order your presents. Merry Christmas.