I am Alma-Jane, and I am genetically happier than the average person. I know this because 5 days ago one of the researchers at the New York City Hospital, where I go once a week, told me so.
“My dear AJ,” she said, eyeing me between quick, nervous blinks, “your Genetic Happiness score is 5!”
“My dear RA, 5 is great,” I replied, keeping my long, curvy lashes totally steady, “but what’s the highest score?”
“That is the highest score!”
“Hmm, that’s amazing, RA,” I responded calmly.
“Amazing indeed,” she agreed and then added, “By the way, RA stands for Research Assistant. Lila is my name. Got it?”
“Got it,” I mumbled, trying to hide my embarrassment by faking a cough and staring at my dusty boots. A few seconds later when I looked up again, I realized that I was alone in the lab; Lila had vanished in complete silence.
“Like magic … ?” I muttered, searching around with my eyes and thinking in the back of my head that according to my brother, Ayrton, magic is a very suspicious word. After waiting vainly for Lila to come back, I left the room and walked home.
Later on that evening, I floated through cyberspace for longer than usual. I wanted to locate other humans (or not-so humans) with the same Genetic Happiness as me. I thought to myself, here is an arithmetically solid measurement of reference, so why shouldn’t I give it a try?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky. After 4 hours, 34 minutes, 16 seconds, and 38 live-chats, I found no one who even came close to my Genetic Happiness. Actually, I came to realize that very few people know what Genetic Happiness is.
First, I encountered some weird guy somewhere in Italy who claimed to be the happiest person on earth because he had “deflowered (his) girlfriend that day for the first time.” From what I understand, deflowering and first time inevitably occur simultaneously. So what’s the point of so much excitement then? Well, I guess this guy didn’t view the whole thing as I did because he wrote, “My Genetic Happiness is 10!” and a fat, out-of-shape 10 filled my screen. A microsecond later, 3 exclamation marks followed in similar thickness and height (!!!).
My oversensitive retinas were becoming misshapen because of this guy’s visual parlance, but I decided to give him a second chance. So I tried to explain to him the difference between the lasting genetic type of happiness that I was referring to and the short-lived, upward swing of happiness he was experiencing.
“And … and … by the way, 5 is the highest you can get,” I squeezed between his doodles. But in vain. He wouldn’t listen. So after wasting a significant amount of my precious time, I exited our chat and went on searching for my next genetically happy scorer.
I forgot to mention that, by now, I was already logged into the OH site. That’s the Overall Happiness website, which was designed more than a decade ago by a famous Internet nerd named Cornelis, who was killed in the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks. Apparently, Cornelis’ creation is still functional, so anyone can login to OH. And after completing a short questionnaire, he/she can find out his/her Overall Happiness. Of course, as you understand, the Overall Happiness is the sum of the Genetic and the non-Genetic Happiness. The Genetic Happiness, which can only be obtained through a very sophisticated and thus expensive blood test (I learned this, by the way, after a lot of googling), is invariable. In other words, it sticks with you from birth. The non-Genetic Happiness is variable—it fluctuates like your heartbeat, from moment to moment. Unfortunately, almost no one from the OH chat room seemed to comprehend this simple fact, although each one of them had supposedly answered the very first question of the survey, which requires you to fill in your Genetic Happiness by choosing from the following 6 numbers: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
“I am looking for someone with a Genetic Happiness of at least 4,” I posted initially, and within seconds, 1,456 members who were online at that very moment claimed to have a Genetic Happiness of 4 or above.
“I am not looking for the Overall Happiness, but for the Genetic Happiness!” I clarified, and 1001 members withdrew at once.
“Hmm! Now we are talking,” I mumbled, trying to decide whom to pick from the list. And then I wrote, “Anyone with a very high Genetic Happiness?” The next thing I read was the Italian guy’s response.
After talking to him, I chatted with 36 other members who claimed to know their Genetic Happiness, but in the end, they proved to be absolutely ignorant.
“When did you have the blood test done?” I asked one of them.
“What blood test?” he replied.
“Do your parents really love each other? I asked another one.
“My parents? What do they have to do with this?” she responded irritatedly.
Finally, after wasting 3 more hours, I ended up chatting with an old lady named Ms. Raduska Smith, who claimed to possess a 0 Genetic Happiness.
At first I was hesitant to respond. Naturally, I was doubtful. Also, don’t forget that I was looking for a happy scorer, not a genetically melancholic loser. But, since I was brought up to respect the elderly, I quickly overcame my hesitation and sent the lady a big yellow smiley face. Immediately afterwards, one word after another started bursting onto my screen. Within minutes, I’d learned that Ms. Raduska was told by her father that she had been born with 0 Genetic Happiness and “since natal Genetic Happiness represents 50% of the entire happiness score, the other 50% is the happiness you accumulate from living a compassionate life,” Ms. Raduska depended totally on that other 50%, the fabricated type of happiness, as she called it.
At least she knows what she is talking about, I thought to myself, my eyes still following the words materializing on the screen.
Finally, when there was a pause (nothing new on the screen for 8 seconds), I asked, “How do you know your dad was correct?”
“Fathers are always correct,” Ms. Raduska replied.
“I don’t think so,” I objected.
“Why are you in cyberspace so late at night?” she asked, attempting to change the subject, which really meant that either I was right or she didn’t want me to know that she was wrong.
Then, ploofff. She disappeared, and that ended my online exploration.
In cyberspace, sounds are like smells, whatever you imagine them to be. In other words, the ploofff that I heard may be loophhh or shooff or tooofff to you. The difference between sounds and smells (besides the obvious) is that sounds are black and white, whereas smells are polychromatic. Polychromatic (by the way) is a Greek word made up of poly and chroma; poly means many and chroma indicates color. I know this because my mom has Greek genes, and genes affect 50% of what we are going to be; the other 50% of who we become depends on where and with whom we live. I live with Mom and Dad, of course, but Dad doesn’t have Greek genes; he has a multi-flavor mix of English, Italian, and Spanish genes, which makes him globally more adoptable than Mom. I am made of 20% Greek genes, 70% English genes, and 10% Italian and Spanish genes. My English genes give me the ability to look like a bleached version of my brother, Ayrton, who is older than me by 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days and is made out of 80% Greek and 20% Italian genes. Ayrton believes that nurture decides 90% of our mental, physical, and emotional development. Our genes determine the other 10%. He says that genes are like a piece of dough; what we make with that piece is up to us.
“Well, what if the dough is sour?” I ask him when I want to tease him, but lately I don’t want to tease him, so I don’t ask.
In cyberspace, Ayrton is a 42-year-old doctor from Palo Alto, CA. His name is Dr. A, and he gives advice to people all over the world. His guidance has helped many, he says, and it’s totally free of charge.
In cyberspace, I am known as myself: an 11-year-old girl from New York City.
In my opinion, people in cyberspace should be gender neutral. There should be no usage of the pronouns she and he. The only pronoun used should be the neutral it in all its declensions. Also, in cyberspace, the concept of age should be scratched out. Since cyberspace is the universe where the mind lives away from the body, why then talk about years? Years and the process of ageing have to do with the physical, material world. The mind doesn’t belong in that world. In simple words, the mind is age-less and so is our presence in cyberspace. Got it?
Of course Alejandro, my closest friend, doesn’t agree with my theory, but I think his objections and disbelief started disappearing a month ago when his father came back from Iraq.
Since we have arrived at the Iraq issue, I must admit that there is one more thing that I wish didn’t exist in cyberspace. What is it? WAR, of course.
Why have it, eh? If cyberspace is the world of the mind (meaning material possessions don’t exist), what’s the reason for fighting, right?
Well, personally, I think war is something that exists in our minds first, and since cyberspace is the space for our minds, war is an unavoidable part of that space. When I told Alejandro about this, he said that I don’t really know what I am talking about, and if I had a father in the US Army, I would stop talking nonsense and realize that the existence of war is much more complicated than I think it is. Alejandro and I usually don’t agree on war issues, but that doesn’t make us enemies; we are more like peacekeepers that work for different agencies.
But let’s go back to our happy subject: happiness. I must add that before I learned about my genetic point of happiness, I thought that happiness was basically the end of suffering. You end suffering; you become happy. Simple, right? Simple, but untrue.
Now I think that in many cases, ending your suffering means ending your life. Most probably, that’s why people tend to believe that life after death is a happy life. Personally, I think life after death is like my ideal cyberspace: a place where age, gender, money, war, and all that don’t matter anymore. And, most importantly, it’s a place where time ceases. A place that doesn’t give a damn about time. A time-less world.
Kurt Gödel, the well-known Austrian mathematician, would surely agree with me on this; he was the first to imagine a time-less world despite Einstein’s reservations.
Did you know that Einstein and Gödel were good friends?