You look at a painting on the wall of a long ago dead guy wearing a pointy helmet with feathers in it.
He looks like a person that lived in a time when people killed each with spears and swords and lived in houses made of mud and had sex with whoever they pleased and talked in pretentious accents and died very young.
You analyze his face and pretend that when the painting was made, he was having a horrible case of diarrhea, and he had just caught his woman fucking another man that looked similar to him but was slightly taller, younger, and he was overdue with his rent because he lost his job in the castle, and the king was on his ass about something he did that upset him, and he felt very unimportant and insecure and lonely.
A girl comes and sits in the chair across from you.
You say, “hello,” in a friendly way and she doesn’t look at you.
And you wonder if you even exist or had you died and just not realized it yet.
She pulls out a machine similar to yours but smaller and begins focusing her entire existence on the screen.
And you focus your entire existence back on your screen.
And the two of you sit across from each other and pretend the other isn’t there because that’s how modern day humans experience each other.
Like, earlier, you got into an elevator with three other people and despite speaking the same language and having the same problems and living in a world where there’s so much to talk about and interact over, you faced forward like they didn’t exist and they faced forward like you didn’t exist and this is how we’ve decided to live.
And you got off the elevator feeling a little more lonely and alone despite being surrounded by people who probably feel similar.
Like, you wonder if you were to drop dead if anyone would notice, which makes you question again whether or not you’re still alive.
You look back at the painting of the long ago dead person and just stare at it.
And he stares back creepily, like he’s waiting for the right moment to slink out of the painting and sneak up behind you and slit your throat.
And you remember a time when you didn’t give a fuck about being alone.
You didn’t give a fuck if anyone interacted with you or if a girl said, “hello,” back to you, or the boys in the elevator ignored you.
It’s like, somehow, you’ve come to believe that you need to be everything to everyone, like you need all the girls to want to suck your dick and the boys to want to be your friend.
Like, you have to be the most interesting, most attractive person in the world and if there’s someone better, then fuck them, “I hope they die."
And you calculate this is just a by-product of getting old and withering away and becoming obsolete and essentially not mattering any more, because the next generation filing in behind The Progress Machine are taking over the world and shoving you to the side to slog through the mud, slowing you down, so The Progress Machine can catch up to you sooner and clear you out of existence.
And the dead guy in the painting knows how this feels.
If the painting didn’t exist, no one now would ever know he existed and whatever problems he was facing when the painting was made don’t matter.
And somehow there’s comfort in not mattering, because your problems are stupid and meaningless and probably shouldn’t garner any more attention than a fart gets.
No one gives a fuck that your job sucks, you can’t attract a woman to save your life, you’re weak and fragile, you’re lonely, you feel like an obsolete, broken, fucked up, forgotten relic.
Let the vultures circle and pick apart what little you’ve collected.
Let them pick you down to the bone, where there’s nothing left but your soul.
Let them take it all away.
Let them laugh while they do it.
Because you know that eventually their time will come, and the more they have collected, the more painful it will be when The Progress Machine rides on their ass and starts taking it all away.
That’s the message the dead guy in the painting wants to send you.