In the year 1000 AD (After Duxxan, the revolutionary inventor), chiwanity has reached an incredible era. Their binary brain systems have not been modified by much, having been declared as 'sacred' and the 'vessels for the 50 souls', which harbour each of the main chiwan emotional states as identified by the high priests. But the Duxxanites, and their heretical ways, still scheme away, and after almost a century of lobbying, have persuaded the governing elite to add into each child born, a simple, if elegant, mechanical switch wired to each of the main parts of their brains. Why, you ask? The proximate cause is that which was told to the pure, untainted senate - that the insomniac minority was actually a majority, and despite how maybe in a different society in a far off galaxy (if one could exist!) may have attributed this to some other underlying factor, the senate was simply told that this was a hereditary thing (for who could be as pure as the governors!). The switch was essentially designed to bypass the brain's natural course of shutting down, and 'turn people off' at the push of a button. But this is where it got weird for the governors: a mechanism was installed into people so that, when sunlight came, or when their brains had decided they had had enough sleep, their arms would automatically rush to their heads and turn themselves back on again. But for some strange reason, this only happened in about 30% of the cases - dropping as each day passed. People would simply not stop sleeping! But this was simply down to laziness, the 'voice of the people' said. New jobs were being created by employers so that the remaining 30% could go into the employees' houses and wake them up. And it worked. Most of the time. You see, those blasphemous Duxxanites were up to something: for the minimal fee of a few hours' between-network allowance, and the necessary knowledge of bypassing the governors' filters, a person could change their 'off-switch' to permanently keep them in a dream-state. At first this was simply seen in a few cases, but eventually, around 70% of the working population had succumbed to the disgustingly unholy vastness of the dream-scape. Operations were performed, brains were dissected, but all in all, it was discovered, that the Duxxanites had designed the switch to be so closely interlinked with one's brain that nothing, but death, could stop the endless stream of dreams. New cults began closely tied in with the ability to switch oneself off, but they died out as quickly as they formed. Not, as publicly stated, because the government shut them down for good, but because each member could not stand to be away from his or her dreams to spread the good message to the rest of the world.
In 1050 AD only the governors remained. Each, in retaliation and due to the repugnance of the public's descent into non-reality, refused to press their off-switches. Reality is so good, they said, that one must experience as much of it as possible. Do you know that people spend a third of their lives asleep? What a waste! Reality is far too magnificent to do so. Each of them died in the agony that the fellow chiwans they had enslaved felt on a day-to-day basis. I remember only a few of the dreams I've had in my life, but every single one was better than what I have, and what lies before me. I wonder what people would do if they had an off-switch - if people had an easy way out, would far more of them take that way out? You may say that suicide rates not being particularly high is a reason why they wouldn't, but the simple fact of the matter is that suicide is painful, and hard, and the fear of death shadows every action a person makes. But if the endless sleep that many people like me so desperately crave could become a viable alternative to life itself, I think most people would come to understand soon what the most satisfying choice is. Life is like being a donkey, working your ass off for a single, rotten carrot. Dreaming is like finding out that you are so immensely important that the Earth literally belongs to you. Personally, I think, I'd take dreaming forever over death any day, but to use James's terminology, I'd say Dreaming > Death > Life, for me.