On the news this morning was a story about how some genius has invented an electronic chip that can be implanted under our skin and used as a replacement for company ID badges that we have to carry at work. I was immediately reminded of an old conspiracy theory that a friend of mine used to bang on about.
This fellow used to be a heroin addict, but after kicking the smack he found he had a big hole in his life, and so turned to Jesus to fill it. As anyone who has ever known a junkie will testify, these people’s entire lives are dedicated to their drug of choice; the acquirement and ingestion of narcotic is all they think about from one minute to the next. So it follows that to fill the void left by drug addiction, he was going to need a lot of Jesus. A little Jesus on a Sunday morning wasn’t nearly enough - this man needed total Jesus, twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. Thus he became one of those people who put the mental in religious fundamentalism – he stood on street corners berating passers by for their sins, and never missed a chance to lecture us – his supposed friends – about the word of God.
He knew every single conspiracy theory that was floating about, and believed each one of them with the zeal and fervour of someone on an extended break from reality. His particular favourite was the old barcode theory, which I’ll now attempt to describe for those not in the know.
Go and find something with a barcode on; it shouldn’t be difficult, they’re on pretty much everything these days. Now, take a close look and you’ll see the series of vertical stripes is subdivided into two sections by three pairs of thin lines. Next, look along the row of numbers across the bottom and find a number six; immediately above that six will be the corresponding set of lines that signifies that number in barcode language. That’s right – the number six is represented by the same pair of thin lines that subdivide the whole shebang, or in other words every single barcode is essentially a great big 666.
Somewhere in the book of revelation there’s a passage about how the devil will take over the world, and he will put his mark upon humanity, and the mark is 666. According to crackpots like my friend, that moment is already here, as everyone is carrying around Satan’s mark in the guise of the barcode that’s on the label of their underpants, or the price-tag of their sausage sandwich, or whatever.
I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s an interesting theory, but is ultimately the ravings of a paranoid mind.
Or is it? I’ve never been big on religion, and I don’t share the view that the Antichrist is on his way to throw us into a thousand years of darkness. I believe human beings are more than capable of achieving that particular feat without any outside assistance. But this idea of us all eventually going around with little electronic chips implanted under our skin does sort of remind me of my friend’s rantings. I wonder how long it will be before businesses insist you have to get chipped if you want to work for them?
Perhaps the devil is real. Perhaps he’s the head of some huge corporation, and wants to rule the world and force us all to carry his mark. Stranger things have happened.