“I want to see writing from at least five people in each of your systems! Is that clear?” Ms. Johnson looked
over the sea of students. “Twenty minutes, a five-paragraph essay about the role of individuals in
today’s society. Go!”
Randy prepared to dash this out. All her teachers cared about with these big classes was participation anyway.
“These days,” she scribbled, “so many people are multiple that the role of individuals is more like the role of crowds.”
She tossed her pencil into her left hand and let it spew out sharp, slanted letters for a few sentences.
“This is supposed to be a good thing. People say that maybe it is Nature’s way of starting to fix overpopulation.
Instead of 100 people in 100 bodies we can have 100 people in 2 bodies. The problem now is
there is not a role for the individual in society.”
And a line of simple, childish printing: “People are so used to being multiple as being the default that they’re
confused if you are only one person. Jobs and teachers think that you should have ten people’s worth
of skills. One-person kids like my friend Sandy have to fake being different people all day long, even at home.
“Otherwise,” the essay went on in a careful copperplate hand, “people think she is weird. They make
fun of her or they get embarrassed around her. It sucks.” She sighed and got back to the point. “The role
of individuals in our society is just more complicated than it used to be.”
If Ms. Johnson went by handwriting, it was only four people. How did they know? What had she skipped?
Maybe if she did really messy handwriting next, or wrote names.... Randy raised her pencil again, then, sadly,
crossed out “Sandy” and wrote “me.”