Everyone was saying this’d be the best thing to happen to humanity since opposable thumbs, or some other huge milestone. This 'update' was going to carry us to a new plane of existence. Or possibly destroy us, we just didn't know. I personally didn't buy all the hype - "It's just a point update," I'd say when someone brought up the topic.
Don't get me wrong - it was a big deal. I can see why the news channels were covering it 24/7, despite there being nothing new to cover. Of course people took to the internet to speculate. And I saw an interesting essay about how a benevolent god might have planned the update to remove all prejudice from our minds. But most every other comment seemed to be someone's wishlist of the awesome superpowers they wish we all had.
And yes, it was all of us. 7 billion people saw the progress bar at the exact same time, in the corners of their eyes, at 1% and counting. Alongside it were a few words telling them they would soon be updated to Version 1.1 of humanity. No one yet knew what this would do to us, or if there was any way to stop it. Some people actually committed suicide before it finished, reasoning that if they were to be changed into something that wasn't human, they'd rather die with their humanity intact.
So yes, I can see why this was a big deal. It's just... I wish it wasn't.
After three months, the progress bar reached 100%, and something happened that few of us expected. No one changed immediately, but in the corners of our eyes there appeared a new notification: Human Update 1.1. Hold your breath for 10 seconds to finish installation.
It was so simple, hold your breath for 10 seconds and that was it. People were afraid to do it, and rightly so. But with 7 billion of us all poised to undergo the same transformation, someone was bound to try it first. People curious to see what would happen, and those with nothing to lose, were among the first to change. 10 seconds without breathing, and they were bathed in a silvery light, and then...
Luckily for us, the effects were non-deadly. Those who’d been holding out for a biblical apocalypse were duly disappointed. In fact the most immediately obvious change was the loss of all freckles as their skin turned to a marble-smooth complexion. Over the next few hours, those who underwent the change lost all their bodily hair, except for on top of their heads. Conversely, bald people’s hair grew back. And hair that’d gone grey with age gained its colour once more. Many people compared it to the ‘various interface improvements and bug fixes’ of a typical software update. Losing their freckles, I suppose, was one of these so-called ‘interface improvements’.
Over the next few weeks, some of the subtler changes became apparent. Their vulnerability to certain autoimmune diseases went away. Poison ivy ceased to have an effect on them. And allergies to nuts went away entirely. One of the more interesting changes though was the need to sleep. People who’d undergone the update, or ‘human-point-ones’ as they are called, found they felt fully rested after 3 or 4 hours asleep, as opposed to the usual 7 or 8 hours for us ‘point-ohs’.
And yes, I am still a point-oh. We still exist, thank you very much. I don’t need a reason for not ‘upgrading’, though I do have one. I like the freckles, okay? I also think some men look better with beards - there I said it! I don’t want to change just because everyone else is. I think the update robs us of our differences. It’s well known that some subtle racial features are erased by the update, but none of the point-ones seem to care. And those people are now the vast majority. Within the first week, over 60% of the world population had changed into point-ones, and people like me are in an ever-dwindling minority.
It’s getting harder and harder to live normally without finishing the installation, becoming like one of them. People won’t let you rest! Since we’re supposed to all sleep for four hours a night now, we’re expected to spend the extra time working. Because apparently the thing to do when you free up four hours a day is to not enjoy any of it!
There is this widely held belief that the update really did erase our prejudices. Most of this however is pure media spin. While it is true that racism is going out of fashion, and some old grudges have been set aside, the truth is that point-ones are more tolerant... towards each other. Yet they see nothing wrong with treating the point-ohs as an inferior species. “If you don’t like it, accept the update,” they always say.
That’s not the only benefit, they say. It also increases your self-control towards food. And it will improve your sex life, they say. Those point-ones think they’re so bloody perfect! Don’t think I haven’t considered taking the update myself. All I’d have to do is hold my breath for 10 seconds. That’s the scary part. If I’m not careful, I could do it accidentally. Anyway, it’s become so much a matter of principle now. Not being able to go scuba diving is the least of my problems.
Remaining a point-oh has its challenges, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I can avoid this update for as long as possible, preferably the rest of my life, then it might have been worth something. And after I’m gone, I hope they put me in a museum. So then future generations might gaze upon my grey hair and imperfect skin, and learn of a strange extinct species that once ruled the world: human-point-oh.