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Do not take this seriously, or our world is in peril

Public service announcement: Don’t answer “suspected spam” phone calls from unfamiliar local numbers. If a recorded voice asks, “Can you hear me?” do NOT answer “Yes.” This is a scam. Someone is trying to steal your body.

You may have noticed increasingly fantastic things happening on the news—not just “historical,” but things better understood as “weird.” This is the hallmark of a simulated reality, where a social scientist introduces variables that wouldn’t normally happen in order to learn about human society. Simulated realities are useful social science tools, but as people become aware their reality is simulated, the simulation becomes worthless. There are a lot of ways to prevent this, but most 10- to 20-year simulations perform “quarantine” and “conceptual smoothing,” mostly at night while we sleep (the 8-hour sleep is part of our simulation—it’s intended to give background processes a chance to work in our local environments, and frees up resources for heavier loads across the globe during peak hours—also, the “globe” is another aspect of our simulation).

Quarantine isolates the “reality is simulated” message. It can range from slight anxiety when confronted with the fact we’re in a simulation, to turning “simulation” into a joke we don’t take seriously, to direct messages from the SysAdmin politely asking you to refrain from ruining the program for everyone, typically on pain of having your program locked. Conceptual smoothing works by weaving in thoughts and elements from neighboring simulations to “write over” problematic glitches and sudden realizations that all we know is generated in user-created academic software packages.

As you might imagine from the “smoothing” routines, multiple simulations are run at once, with elements borrowed between to save on processing power: after all, these things are run by graduate students performing experiments on a limited budget. The cross-walk does create minor glitches: you might misremember movies or books or when key “pivot events” occur within the program.

Your brain is also distributed across multiple simulations—typically between five and 5,000, depending. The more vivid your dreams, the deeper your alienation, the more frequent your sense of disassociation from reality, the more you’ve been spread across. This is normal. The good news is, you have a lot of company. There are hundreds of you, all pretty much the same, though your personal circumstances may differ tremendously (for instance, a few of you are probably in crashing simulations—simulations still have a 10 to 65 percent failure rate, depending on variables introduced and the skill of our graduate student).

An artifact of the original sim-world packages, which were video games, allows embedded users (real people injected into a sim world, like The Matrix) to transport between parallel simulations using the cellular phone networks (but not land lines, unlike The Matrix). This is pretty deeply embedded code, and when a sim world starts to crash, it’s sometimes discovered. The spam calls are attempts, typically by another version of yourself, to cross into a functioning simulation.

Side note: if you have a four-digit number that sticks in your brain, something you have no idea where it came from, but you just remember those digits all the time, that’s probably your phone number in a closely-parallel world. You can call it if you like, but it’s dangerous for both the reasons stated, and a few others I can’t get into here (read: flux spiders).

What’s this got to do with spam callers? Certain unethical versions of you—again, they’re you, but their situations differ and ethics is always at least partly situational—might try a scheme where they distribute a massive number of “robo-calls” to parallel-simulation phone numbers trying to get you to answer “Yes,” which they will record and forward to the overtaxed SysAdmin. They’ll insist you agreed to swap simulations. If this happens, you may find yourself transported to a crashing sim. This is, generally speaking, bad.

The SysAdmin can’t possibly sort all this out, since it’s dealing with up to half a million simulations on a good day, so they deal with it by designating non-simulation calls as “Spam Caller.” This cannot be over-emphasized: DO NOT ANSWER SPAM CALLS. If a simulated version of you is calling, it’s probably not to offer you a fantastic life where you won the lottery. It’s possible they’re wanted for tax evasion, though.

The rub is this, friends: If someone has answered “Yes?” to a “Can you hear me?” spam call, they’ve probably already been replaced. They won’t tell you, because that runs the risk of crashing our simulation; or perhaps their memory is “smoothed” and they don’t realize they did it, and instead they wander around feeling like reality is slightly off. I’m not certain, because of course I’ve never answered “Yes?” to a spam caller before.

It goes without saying, don’t share this around. We want to keep our simulation intact. The happy news is that, based on our 8-hour sleep cycle, the fact our Earth is round (a globe), and there aren’t yet any “simulated reality” major world religions, we can count on this being a moderately healthy 15- to 20-year simulation, and I suspect we’re not more than 5 years in. That’s pretty good!

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