Here is what happened: At about the time when the planet was becoming really uninhabitable, and most of the people of means were already living inside Habitat-style cosmopolitan Bubbles, it became as trivial to build interplanetary space-transport Leviathan's, posh enough, like David Geffen's storied yacht, to make the transit fine, but still not large enough to replace all the complexity of the cosmopolis bubbles, conjoined with one another by this time with transport tubes, of the kind which once did criss-cross The Southern Tip of long-gone Manhattan, well before Privateer-Prime Musk took credit for them.
These bubbles did afford the Earth some breathing space as well, since they were designed to be self contained, absorbing nothing, emitting nothing, from an abundance of caution that Earth may still be required for continued livelihood. For those living inside the Bubbles, interplanetary transport was no significant change. For those without, well they had only known without, and stopped remembering what had caused the skin lesions, lung abscesses, digestive troubles and poor eyesight with which they had become accustomed. Already, there were resistant strains of humans abroad in the land (and on the sea, for sure).
Indeed there was a space elevator, and it was always easy to entice earthling outsiders away (from earth) with simple promise of daily bread and distance from terror at strange eruptions, roving bands of hyperthugs, exploding metallic carcassses large and small. These would become the terraforming armies for new Bubbles, scattered in space, with no more poor communion with compadres than with Olde Home, planet Earth. The only remaining issue unresolved was whether the terraforming armies would be stationed within or without; transport back to Earth trivial enough, but somewhat morally reprehensible. And what, after all, could without possibly mean? They would, quite simply, be sterilized.
Truth be told the divergence among the post-races was sufficient enough that the outsiders were paid no more mind than blacks once were, under the Pirate Prime. This was not the major issue.
What happened was that those inside the Bubbles had differentiated themselves still further from those outside according to a still somewhat surprising development. What happened was that they started to see, and not only to see, but to interact with and live their lives according to the appearance of, lively objects of the sort once described as ghosts.
It is already quite well-understood just exactly what had happened and why. Still, it was surprising. What happened was this: Once these Bubbles were entirely sealed, in from out, there was an utterly contained address-space, and all that was grown and manufactured and consumed was perfectly cataloged, inter-referenced and retrievable in principle, on pain of never having existed in the first place, else the microcosmos would also have ceased and desisted already.
What arose, quite naturally, was an addressable meta-cosmos of emotive interrelations, many of which had never been experienced, or which had been experienced far too insufficiently to be considered real, in any wise. They became so quite on and of their own.
It was never supposed that these intangible address-spaces of emotional complexity could be any threat to the sustainability of Cosmic Bubbling, but of course it never is supposed that the emotions of men and even women too, may Trump their intelligence. These are simply matters to be suppressed, and eradicated by drugs whenever necessary.
Well, the drugs did no good against the ghosts. They were apparently just simply there, taking all sorts of unexpected shapes and having all manner of unanticipated influence. You understand, of course, that I write from without, and many centuries beyond when the melancholic dream of release was nearly realized.
It had already appeared to me (I was genetically lucky, and it was far easier for my strain to resist off-planet attractions) that the problem was in the over-addressing of identity in the first place. Those inside the Bubbles were, by very definition, full of ego, narcissism and cupidity, since that's what the economy meant at that time. Even those we most admired, the Double Aughts, the Bonos, the Cast Away actors, could not resist fantasy yachting as reward for having served at all. Having at least seemed nice for at least a while, good performers one and all, they did deserve to live out the fantasies only barely imaginable to the rest of us. And then to boast, but that is quite a different story.
It had not yet been ascertained with certainty that money itself had become the prime mover, the life-force, definer of all things dormant and quick, and that it was this very life-force, renderer of wants and dreams, value against desire, which had been the efficient cause of earth's destruction. Every calculation of my own needs against those of my neighbor, whom I charged whatever rent the market would bear and dressed accordingly, to kill if necessary. Cost to the bottom created fine opportunity for sociopaths among us to disrupt and be thought cute for it.
Once this life force was contained, and the Earth was free to live her life again, lick her wounds, re-calibrate post-Anthropocene, it simply, well, fermented, this bottled up life-force. Now that is not a bad thing, and were it not for fermentations, it is extremely unlikely that mankind would ever have survived so many eons of knowledge about each individual inevitable fate. What is a bad thing, perchance and perhaps perforce, is when everyone is inebriated every living second of every single living day. This is and always has been, the "cost," so to speak, of too much concentration of wealth without too much accountability.
And wealth is trivially easy to concentrate when shortage is only artificially induced against desire for objects, drained of any meaning, but for design. When getting them requires only that the cost for necessities be driven ever lower until cost itself becomes meaningless, and you take joy, delicious absolute joy, in rendering your labor ever upward, giggling all the while. There was, of course, no labor necessary inside the Bubbles, for these were self-sustaining and wage slavery - robotics - was entirely mechanized. That is how and why emotive Avatars, more real than real, rose up to wreak havoc on lives removed from the reality I now still do inhabit.
If I lose my speech, then ghosts will appear to me as well, and I might want. I therefore write, though fraught with apology, I feel as though I have no choice. Novel précis.