Leveling Up

ME: (Tries to work)

MY BRAIN: So how many experience points do you think I have to go?

ME: ?

MY BRAIN: Before I level up.

ME: Level up?

MY BRAIN: I figure I’m multiclass, you know? Like a Chaotic Neutral Ranger/Geek/Pallet Jack Operator. It’ll take me a little longer to get those levels, but in time I’ll be able to — oh, I dunno, shoot two arrows at a time and enchant lifting forks.

ME: Did you start playing mutant D&D when I wasn’t looking?

MY BRAIN: I have decided that real world no longer allows actual accomplishments, so I’m focusing on
leveling up. Oh, and badges.

ME: Badges.

MY BRAIN: Yesterday I unlocked the Courteous Under Trying Circumstances badge, but as you may have noticed I also unlocked the Creative Swearing badge. And they kind of cancelled each other out.

ME: Who, exactly, is awarding you these badges?

MY BRAIN: Idsquare.

ME: Oh, of course.

MY BRAIN: Every five seconds the super-ego checks in with the id about what state I’m currently in, and depending on where I check in and how long I stay I get badges.

ME: So if you’re polite to a wrong phone number –

MY BRAIN: Badge.

ME: And you don’t take the last bottle of Inko’s when it’s on sale –

MY BRAIN: Badge.

ME: And you figure out how to restack a pallet so it doesn’t fall over –

MY BRAIN: Experience points, duh. Don’t go mixing up my value systems.

ME: You do realize that merely providing a little more of the social axle grease that makes our culture spin properly doesn’t, in the long term, make for a very fulfilling life.

MY BRAIN: No, I got that figured out. The first badge I earned was the Satisfaction with Shallow, Meaningless Achievements badge.

ME: …

MY BRAIN: I had to win 25 levels of Candy Crush and arrange the refrigerator door condiments into a meaningful pattern. It’s more difficult than you’d think.

ME: So now with the wide world before you, you’re going to settle for that.

MY BRAIN: And be happy! Isn’t it great? It’s like a little sustaining biosphere of self actualization.

ME: I’m not sure I think —

MY BRAIN: Wait a minute. It’d be a little sustaining biosphere of NON-self actualization, wouldn’t it? Still, it’s sustaining. I expect there are trees and carbon dioxide and things.

ME: I’m not sure I think that this is a viable long-term strategy.

MY BRAIN: And already this morning I’ve earned the Keeping You From Work Badge.

ME: What?

MY BRAIN: Just a couple more messed-up spreadsheets and misheard lyrics and I’ll be crowned Mayor Of Getting On Your Last Nerve. Do you have mayoral perks?

ME: I’m not going to reward you for keeping me from getting work done!

MY BRAIN: You’re just asking for a one-star review on Ego Yelp.

What does YOUR brain say?

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