BRAVE NEW VIRTUAL WORLD APRIL 11, 2004. BIG JAY E-MAILS A BIG QUESTION: HOW VIRTUALLY BIG DO WE HAVE TO HET BEFORE WE GET VIRTUALLY BAD?

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The year is 2004. We open on a copywriter, a working mother about 35 or so, somewhere in Santa Monica, pounding away on her laptop. She's just finished watching President Hillary Rodham give her State of the Union address. (President Rodham divorced her first husband, Bill, after she caught him fooling around with Ricki Lake.) It was just announced that Venice Beach was purchased by Disney, which plans to turn it into a post-modern theme park called Hipdom. It's past 9 p.m. at the end of another lonely working day.

She opens the folder marked Diary Entries .*.*.

April 4, 2004

Greetings brothers and sisters from New Oceaniania, hard by the shores of the Pacific. I work for Big Jay. I'm a virtual concepting prole who hacks in at Corporate whenever necessary. Big Jay's Agency is extremely successful. At least that's what I've heard. Being a prole, I'm not privy to the financial skinny. But the buzz is he's a double-plus wealthy mankind.

Over 300 virtual proles like myself village off-site and hammer for Big Jay. But I interface with only the eight people in my think group. Someone said that in old times Big Jay's Agency was like a tribe, and there were righteous personal interactions and celebratory group gatherings.

But I can testify: that's no more.

April 17, 2004

Today's a typical day. I check in at 9 a.m. with the Corporate Allocator, get my cybergear and link up with Oceaniania Highway. Corporate is a very clean, well-designed space and they don't like it if you bring personal things on site. Once a friend of mine hung this big hologram of her kids in her allotted space, and the Culture Police e-mailed her a ditch-it message: "Your personal stuff is artistically and functionally incompatible with Mr. Geary and Big Jay's design vision. Thank you."

April 30, 2004

Next week is a virtual spring office party, where we link up with Big Jay remote in Rio. He'll be joined by fellow corporate revelers from the New Thoughts Council and an L.A. Times reporter who's been working with Corporate on a book about virtual things.

May 10, 2004

We won Reebok back, again. I hope the fifth time is the charm.

May 20, 2004

Great mirth and sublime merriment on the e-mail highway. It seems Nike spokesperson Tonya Harding put out a hit on Nike's Phillip Knight because she heard he was going to launch Air Kerrigan. Her Portland goons kidnapped him, shaved his beard, dressed him in a suit from J.C. Penney and left him on the side of the road in a pair of Reeboks.

May 30, 2004

"Think Newspeak." They keep flashing that on our monitors. They love new words and phrases in Oceaniania. If you don't stay trendoid, the jargon vipers look at you funny.

June 15, 2004

Today is Account Planner's Day. Big Jay instituted this back in 1995. There's actually no party or gathering, but we're encouraged to visit a British pub and smash Guinnesses back until we think just like the average American consumer.

July 6, 2004

There's a rumor that we've won a new-business war in Eurasia. Big Jay e-mails: Victory Matters.

July 15, 2004

Rumor becomes fact. We won the Singapore Cane account.

July 25, 2004

Our group works on Singapore Cane, and recommends: "Nothing helps children learn like the cane."

"Made from the best bamboo on earth."

"Orson Welles wore khakis and loved a cane."

"Be young, have fun, get caned."

"Rattan, don't burn, with a Singapore cane."

"I like the stripes on you."

August 2, 2004

Joe Pytka, nearing retirement, buys Catalina Island.

August 15, 2004

Last night I met a guy who worked with Big Jay before virtual, when it was chaotic and there were crazy rituals. Now he's a group head at Carville Rollins/DDB Needham, and he misses the anarchy and all-nighters and the feeling you belonged to the tribe.

December 15, 2004

Somebody tapped into Finance and transferred money from the interpersonal self-actualizing fund to the office account at Santa Monica New Age Spirits in the amount of approximately 40 cases of beer. There's also a rumor that Big Jay says that although there's no actual Christmas party this year, we are invited to the Wired bash, which is virtual and very edge and wholly futuristic. Myself, I'm going to find who nicked the beer and go interface.

Empowerment to the people, Prole Monica

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