I awoke Tuesday to the most horrifying news: the United Nations had announced the birth of the six-billionth baby. Yes, there are six billion of us on Earth, and that’s just way too many.
Forget your concerns about food and water. More Brita filters can always be made, and there are plenty of Jamba Juice boosts. As usual, I’m worried about being myself. What? I’m an American.
The number six billion poses a serious threat to the project of being yourself and no one else. There can’t be six billion different ways to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
There aren’t six billion different ways for us to strike out on our own in sport utility vehicles or six billion different mixes for us to make on our Sony MiniDisc systems. There are only four boy bands, after all.
I’m even beginning to doubt my ability to follow Macintosh’s commandment to “think different.” It’s unlikely that out of all six billion of us, I’m the only one wild enough to buy the green iMac.
I won’t even talk about clothes.
How can we ever be happy now? Even if someone (let’s say your mother, since she’s the only one who could mean it) were to say to you, “You’re one in a million,” that means there are 6,000 yous. The thought of 6,000 men all smoking Kamels or Camels and trying to be the funny one in 6,000 circles of friends is incredibly distressing.
We should acknowledge that most of the six billion live far away in something called the developing world. I’m not sure what they are developing, but it had better include a healthy appreciation of masturbation or else we’re all in trouble.
That’s enough about the problem, now it’s time to figure out who to blame and, if possible, sue. We should be able to sue over the loss of our individuality – it’s a right guaranteed by the Constitution, if anything. Sure, it’s not written in the Constitution, but we can imagine the Founding Fathers thinking something like “Ya gotta be yourself,” as they wrote the Bill of Rights.
As usual, the fault lies with doctors. No one ever asked them to, but they took it upon themselves to start curing epidemics and preventing future outbreaks. I’m looking in your direction, Louis Pasteur.
People used to die left and right before Pasteur declared war on bacteria and started telling his friends to wash up before cutting people open. Think of how much less traffic there would be if we didn’t heat milk and other foods to kill germs. Pasteur started that too.
He gave us vaccinations as well, and doctors have been at it ever since.
Where will they stop? How many people have to be alive before doctors give up their crusade for overpopulation?
They even attack those who would do something about the problem. The tobacco industry had been in the population control business for several hundred years. Not only did they often cause cancer and heart disease, but they also went to the root of the problem by causing (as a professor who saw me smoking outside of Funger noted with a smile) impotence.
Thanks to doctors, in a few generations, no one will smoke.
It probably isn’t worth it to sue all the doctors. It isn’t just their fault. Nearly every discipline except for philosophy, literature, political “science,” and the fine arts has contributed to our outrageous survival rate.
All we can do is wait for some incredible natural catastrophe to get us back in line. Until then, don’t worry about being yourself. Just be good.
This article appeared in the October 18, 1999 issue of the Hatchet.