It happens to all of us: one moment, you’re eating a burrito and laughing with friends on a warm spring day, and the next, you’re spiraling into the delusion that the world is a wonderful place. You look around and think, Gosh, tomorrow’s going to be even better than today. You sense a benevolent energy radiating from the universe as if all life was wrapped in a warm electric blanket. You watch Ellen after work. You post trite inspirational aphorisms on your Facebook. You bake a cake for your neighbor’s birthday. Behind your back, people sneer, “Does that guy ever stop smiling. Someone should beat him up and steal his kidney,” but you don’t care because you have an unrelenting positive worldview. Every atom of your body is kissed by God.
It’s disgusting, I know. But how do you sustain awareness of the ceaseless cascade of death (150,000 people per day) when sometimes a monkey rides a dog like a cowboy? How do you keep from forgetting that behind every second of bliss are two dead bodies rotting in hospital beds? How can you perpetually induce the feeling of driving past a graveyard at night?
That’s where the Death Alert App comes in. Every time anyone anywhere dies, your phone issues a bloodcurdling shriek, and the deceased’s name, age, and cause of death appears on your screen. At the bottom, you’re given an option to share the Death Alert on Facebook or Twitter. And, just to reinforce the gravity of a human being’s utter dissolution, your phone’s background changes to a childhood photo of the most recent deceased. “Is that your daughter?” your friends will ask. “No,” you’ll answer. “But she was someone’s daughter.” Your friends will grimace with admiration.
Additional features include:
-Livestream of the deceased’s funeral
-Archived home videos of his/her life.
-Interviews with the bereaved.
-Map display showing where deaths are occurring.
-Ability to leave comments; e.g., “This made me really depressed! Thanks!”
Often, I find myself operating as if my existence was permanent, as if I will transcend this life/death duality through sheer force of will. Thoughts bubble up from my subconscious like, Everyone else might die, yes, but not me because I am me and how could the world exist without me to observe it. Or: Everyone else’s friends and family might die, sure, but not mine because I can’t conceptualize it. Or: Only weak people die, those susceptible to illness and accidents, but not me because I’m invincible. The Death Alert App, however, slices through these delusions with continuous updates on those who’ve learned the terrible truth. Young and old, healthy and unhealthy, smart and dumb—dead.
The Death Alert App comes in especially handy during potentially joyful situations; e.g., a couple on a first date that’s going extremely well:
John: *laughs* Oh man, that’s hilarious. Hey, one of these days, we should go rock climbing together.
Jennifer: That sounds like so much fun. I can’t believe you also love rock climbing.
John: I know!
Jennifer: What’s that?
John: Oh. Looks like Oliver Miller just died of a stroke.
Jennifer: Is he your friend? A celebrity?
John: No, just one of the seven billion other strangers destined to die.
Jennifer: Um, okay, so…
John: I think we should end the date here. We’re trying to create this long lasting human connection, but what’s the point if it always ends in tragedy. Better to die alone and unloved than watch your loved ones die one by one and then die alone anyway.
Jennifer: Or we could wait for the food to get here.
John: No, I don’t think so.
You don’t want feelings of delight to overshadow the interminable horror of your own mortality. Birthdays, for example, mark one’s progress toward doom, but friends and family conceal this beneath parties, balloons, gifts, lies. Thanks to the Death Alert App, you can enjoy your birthday while at the same time experiencing the requisite dread and hopelessness.
Mom: Happy birthday, honey! Open your present!
John: Wow, an iPad! Thanks, mom!
Mom: I love you!
John: I love you too!
Mom: Oh dear, what was that?
John: Someone named Brandon Gorrell is dead, mother.
Mom: What does that mean?
John: It means nothing matters and everything is transient, even an iPad. Wanton consumerism can’t stop time’s steady march, mother. This is just an object, mother.
Mom: I don’t, um…
John: Cover my cake in black frosting please.
Bring the Death Alert App with you on a plane and contemplate the precariousness of a human being suspended thousands of feet in the air in a steel tube. Bring it with you to a wedding to show how no amount of love can quell the planet’s forever mounting death toll. Bring it with you to the baby shower to remind everyone that an infant is but organic material, warm and wriggling, but doomed to dissolve back into the earth.
I know what you’re wondering: if approximately two people die every second, then wouldn’t the Death Alert App continuously shriek all day every day? Yes. The Death Alert App never stops shrieking, never stops reminding you of death, and soon, you won’t even hear it. It’ll be subsumed into your subconscious awareness. You’ll stop having feelings like happy or sad; only dread, constant and paralyzing. People will say, “Wow, that guy lives his life without artifice,” and “Why is he screaming?” and “You can’t sleep here, sir.”
So stop planting those tulips and download the Death Alert App today! You’ll regret it, but what does anything matter anyway!