SNow that we're living in a technological wonderland, you're in constant danger of losing your humanity. It's just a fact — every scientific or medical advance makes us that little bit less human, and every time you play with your Google Android or eat another stem-cell sex donut, a few cells of your body transform into day-glo bubble wrap. Science fiction has been warning us for years! But how can you tell when you're no longer human? We're here to help. The situation has already become dire. You lose track of people for a few months, and the next thing you know, they've become dongles. One Scranton, PA man was turned into a laser printer for a mad supercomputer. A recent study* said that people are now 29 percent more likely to lose their humanity than their innocence. That means there are potentially millions of posthumans running around who believe that it's not them, it's you. The thing about humanity is, it's like pregnancy. You're either human, or you're not. There's no middle ground, no half-and-half — bite me, Mr. Spock! — and you don't get to straddle. Pick a side! S I recognize that some of you are fine with being no longer human. It's a valid lifestyle, and I fully support your species-traitor agenda. (Freakazoid.) However, this article isn't aimed at you, but at the people who are still human or human-identified. (Or human-questioning.) Also — and it pains me to have to say this — you robots who want to be human? Go away. Ditto for you trolling cephalopods. It always goes the same way — somebody starts a helpful discussion for current and maybe-former humans, and some A.I. has to come on there and try and reverse-Turing-test everybody, in some perverse bid for human validation. Seriously, Pinnochio-bots — leave now. This isn't for you. And no, I won't trade validation of your humanity for sex. I don't care how fully functional you are. I still have nano-crabs from the last time. Okay, now that it's just us, let's get started. What is humanity? Countless philosophers and science fiction authors have devoted billions of words to debating this question, because they didn't ask me. If they'd asked me, it would have taken five minutes, and they could have moved on to solving more pressing questions, like "Where is my Debbie Gibson comeback?" Or: "What happens if someone accidentally watches Moulin Rouge without being on the movie's recommended dose of Ativan?" It's pretty simple: humanity is a mood disorder. It's a chemical imbalance that makes people manic-depressive, needy, passive-aggressive, sexually compulsive and epileptic-bulimic-lactose-intolerant and sponge-throwy. There, we're done. The creator of humanity, as a concept, was 16th century thinker and fish-thrower Michel de Montaigne. The inventor of bling (see picture at right), Montaigne shaved his head and coated it with a special substance which converted it into a massive lint roll. Thus armed, he would rub his bald head over everyone he met, while shouting, "Que Sais-je?!" which is French for, "Is that a pubic hair stuck to my head? Is it? Is it?" If you heard someone shout "Que sais-je?" you had about five seconds to dodge, before a megacephalic bald head charged you and coated your clothes with head-glue. Sometimes Montaigne would enlist the aid of two specially bred hairless llamas, Pepe and Marino. He also had a belt with a large number of flasks, each containing an adhesive puffer fish, which he could throw with uncanny accuracy at a distance of up to 50 centimes. Anyway, Montaigne needed a theory to explain to his llamas why he couldn't keep gluing his head to theirs at night, a practice which made the llamas happy but which gave Montaigne terrible neck cramps. He needed to explain what separated him from the the llamas, other than walking upright. Thus was born his theory of ennui-fu, which converted our uniquely human boredom and disaffection into a martial art that could snap your spine in three places. To be human, Montaigne said, one must be able to kill, not just in cold blood, but even in tepid saliva. S Some easy methods to determine whether you are still human: Okay, so enough theory. Here's the practice. Test yourself to find out if you've lost your humanity, or might be in imminent danger of misplacing it. Answer the following questions: You have mistakenly eaten a piece of fruit belonging to an archbishop. A mango, say. Do you A) Hide the iniquitous pit and claim innocence? B) Confess your error in an elaborate Latin-esque verse? C) Conceal yourself inside a giant chasuble and pretend to be made out of incense thanks to the judicious application of dry ice? You face a complex ethical dilemma. What do you do? What do you mean, you need more info? It's an ethical dilemma. It's complex. Okay, okay. It's an ethical dilemma with at least seven separate aspects. And you have to choose who lives, and who dies. What do you do? What are you wearing? What percentage of your body is covered in glowing bubble wrap and/or little bits of electronics? Has your chest/nose/kneecap/genitalia/hair/brain/toenail started behaving outside of your control? Is the sensation that usually tells you when you're no longer hungry now saying that you no longer need to breathe? When was your last bowel movement? Was it made out of metal? How about now? What are you wearing now? How to get your humanity back: This is the part where it really helps to have watched a lot of science fiction, and possibly have listened to some German industrial music as well. There are clues, there are roadmaps. Many science fiction novels are the work of people who later transformed almost entirely into bubble wrap, as you can see by looking at photo albums from WorldCon. (Every time I'm in the same room as John Shirley, I have to sit on my hands to keep from popping bits of him.) From my intensive immersion in SF, I know that it helps to freak out. If you even suspect that you are approaching a non-human event, start screaming and breaking stuff. Especially in public, or in front of your coworkers. This can actually help to reverse the dehumanizing effects of vaccines and gadgets just by itself. But it also lets everybody know that you're SERIOUS about staying human. If you remain calm or take the time to think stuff through, you're already sunk. Don't fall into the trap of going back to nature — it is most likely the inhuman babble of voices inside your head, trying to trick you into infecting the natural world with your contagion. Don't go macrobiotic. That's usually the last thing people try before they succumb completely, and it never works. Worst of all, it's tantamount to admitting you're about to become a machine-creature, or just a regular creature. Also: If you hear someone saying they've gone macrobiotic, avoid avoid avoid. They are probably half-slug already. Vegans, also highly suspect. Self-mutiliation works, if only you remove the right parts. Trouble is, people invariably get confused and remove their last vestiges of humanity, which they then sculpt into hortatory figurines, for the remaining "temporarily human" people to gaze upon in horror. Don't join any groups. Or associations. Don't go to anyone's clubhouse, or "tea room," or especially not basement. Really, the only surefire vaccine and cure for post-humanity is patriotism. It terrifies and horrifies the agents of cyborgity and mutatedness, because it's beyond their comprehension. Bonus points if you're patriotic for some place you've never actually been, like Tonga. March around shouting slogans and singing anthems, and possibly also hurling insults upon people whom you supect of being from Niue, that inferior land. It's almost, but not quite, too late. If you don't do something right now, this could be you. Or possibly your boyfriend: * There's no study. I made it up.
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