Saturday, 22 November 2014

Social Media in 2025 - "Go Primal" A Short Story

A short story, published exclusively on Guerrila Ronin wRiter

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Go Primal
Alexei Maxim Russell

The car pulled up to the filthy, bombed-out hovel. All aerogel on the outside, all chromium and metal on the inside, it was the best looking, most efficient vehicle money could buy.

"Only 6,950 creds," said the driver, as he disembarked. He gave a paternal pat on the hood.

"Not bad," said the passenger. "where did you get it?"

"Amazon!" he said. "where else? Promo code, 2,100 creds off. Strictly for citizens, of course. Strictly for Black Friday month. Drove itself here from Seattle. Didn't you, Derp?"

"Sure did!" replied the vehicle.

The pair turned reluctantly to the purpose of their excursion, the dilapidated house. They stared hard, as if looking disapprovingly upon a disobedient child. Dressed in a similar mess of wearable tech, they were indistinguishable--lithe, good looking and perfectly groomed. It was only when they spoke that you could determine which one of them was male or female.

"This one's gone primal, obviously," said the female voice. "Better cover up, Carson."

"Good call, Anita," said the male voice. "Mr. Sulu! Raise shields!" he shouted, in his best William Shatner impression. His shirt responded immediately, in George Takei's sonorous baritone.

"Shields raised, Captain!"

The shirt glowed and a magnetic shield spread from the shirt, to encompass his entire body, in a shimmering translucent layer of blue.

Anita did the same, and they gave eachother a knowing nod. They strode confidently towards the derelict residence and knocked on the door.

"What the f$!k do you want?!"

The coarse, crude response made Carson and Anita cringe. These primals were so uncivilized.

"Uh yes, Mr. Adair?" asked Anita. "we're here from Social Media Citizenship Multinational and Subsidiaries. We're here to review your application for social media citizenship?"

The door swung open immediately and a cringing beggar dropped down on his knees.

"Oh, sorry ma'am!" beggar said. "Sorry, sorry! So sorry! I was thinking you were those looters that have been going around! You've gotta be rough with them. Come in! Please! Do you want a drink... uh, you drink right?"

The beggar, dressed in torn rags, looked over their perfectly arranged personal tech as if looking at androids. He felt so out of place, he couldn't be sure, at first, if they were fully human. He eyed them with a mixture of fear and envy. He kept his head down, submissively.

"Of course we drink!" said Carson, rolling his eyes at Anita. The beggar instantly produced a used cola bottle, that had been filled with some kind of transluscent fluid. Carson cringed.

"Oh, it's clean!" Mr. Adair said. "Rain water! It's not from the polluted pools or anything or the resevoir. I collected it!"

"Yeah... thanks," said Anita. "but we'll stick to 100% H2O, thank you. The particulate load of that rain water looks pretty high."

"100% H2O for three, Siri," said Anita.

"100% H2O for Anita Robinson, Carson Barre and Unidentified Non-Citizen are on their way to 1645 Jackson Crescent," replied Siri.

"Now, Mr. Adair," said Carson. "concerning your application for multinational citizenship."

By concentrating his mind on the air a foot ahead of him, the brain wave signature unlocked the display on Carson's contact lenses and he mentally navigated the translucent menus. Without Mr. Adair's awareness, Carson was examining his file.

"You were given the option for Social Media Citizenship in 2020, when the drive for citizenship had just begun. And you, in fact, signed up. You were approved for citizenship in 2021, but then renounced your citizenship. Why?"

Mr. Adair gasped and swallowed hard. He was obviously very sick. Carson took a step back.

"I'm sorry," Mr. Adair began. "I was stupid. I didn't want a chip implanted in my hand. It was that mandatory chip for citizens thing... I didn't like it. I thought I could just get out of my citizenship and go back to the way life was before. But now, I want back in! I'll get chipped! I don't mind!"

Carson looked over at Anita, not because he had to, but because he liked to. She was communicating directly, chip to chip. They were synched and shared the same frequency. He heard her in his head, with the occasional relevant file or media pop up in his vision. He approved her for pop up access to his system long ago.

"Look at this," Anita chipped to him. "a streaming video of Mr. Adair, from 2015, vlogging his views on various conspiracy theories of mass chipping and world domination. He kept going on about the evils of social media and how the Global Elite or the Illuminati or Alien Reptiles from Space, or whatever, are trying to enslave us all."

"Ewww," Carson chipped back. "So, he's out."

"Yup," she chipped back. "Break out the tin foil hats. He's a conspiracy nut. This isn't a disqualification for citizenship. But it's clear in the Terms of Service, this is disqualification for having citizenship reinstated, unless some other grounds make it worth reinstating him. But I don't see any yet. He asked for it, really. He was a member of one of those crazy online prepper communities until 2021, when he lost his Internet priveleges. So really, if he's been prepping so long, he should fare relatively well as a primal, wouldn't you say?"

Carson snapped out of it and looked at Mr. Adair, who was completely unaware of their chip interactions. He eyed them with fear and hope.

The familiar sound of drone propellers were audible. With their enhanced hearing, the two citizens heard it a mile away. Like Pavlov's dogs, their mouths watered. Drones always meant some kind of treat. Food, drink or a new toy. They scanned the horizon. The drone appeared from around a corner and delivered three bottles of 100% H2O into the hands of the three residents, then flew off as quickly as it had appeared.

Mr. Adair opened it and drank it with gusto, within a few short seconds. It had obviously been a long time since he had tasted pure water. The two citizens sipped theirs casually and chipped primal-related memes to eachother, to express their disgust at this boorish behavior.

"So you went primal?" asked Carson. "By then, 2021, you already knew what 'going primal' meant. You knew that people who opted out of citizenship also opted out of the social media structure, which they'd enjoyed for free, for so many years. You knew what that meant. No Facebook, no Twitter, no real Internet, in fact, by 2021. No social media creds. Without access to the world's dominant currency and no access to Amazon or the world's online marketplaces, you have nothing! Once citizenship and the cred took over, brick and mortar went out the window! Even by 2021, you must've seen that creds were relegating all other currencies to the ghetto. So that, by now, only primals use those old school currencies, which is why they're worth practically nothing by now. And so, knowing all this, you still chose to go caveman. You've gone primal, here in this cave of yours."

Carson motioned at the filthy piles of rubbish which Mr. Adair called his home.

"Full of diseases and parasites," continued Carson. "if it wasn't for this magnetic shield protecting our bodies, we wouldn't even step foot in this place. You must have had an inkling. Mult-national citizenship is the new normal. Citizens even get paid, depending on how much work they're willing to do to spread positivity and civilization multi-nationally. Citizens enjoy the best wearable health tech to ensure they're healthy and in best possible shape. I mean, we're getting paid by SMCM and Subsidiaries in creds, right now! I could watch the creds trickling in, real-time! All just to come here and test you, and log some face time with you. I mean, pay, tech, health, security... what else could you ask for? And you willingly chose this, instead, just because you didn't want a chip?"

Mr. Adair hung his head. He was obviously suffering a lot of torment, not only from his pitiable physical state, but from his regrets.

"I'm sorry I did that!" he finally shouted, grasping his head in his hands and grinding his teeth. "I'd do anything to change that now!"

Anita's biological scanner app sent a message. Analysis of Mr. Adair indicated he had potential for third degree implantation. This meant they could implant chips in many places of his nervous system, and set up a central control system that made him useful for stock management in the global supply store, in Seattle. Only about 3% of human beings had this central nervous system structure. So, it would be worth trying to reinstate him. She chipped this over to Carson.

"And at third degree implantation," replied Carson. "he would be easy to control, in case that primal instinct gets the better of him."

Anita gave him an old school nod and a wink. Carson loved that old school charm, when it came from Anita, anyways. He smiled and blushed red.

"Okay, Mr. Adair," he said. "We have a lot of applications to go over today, so let's not waste time. Final analysis is, you're approved."

Mr. Adair gasped and fell to his knees. He began to pray and give thanks so vociferously that both citizens had to take a few steps back.

"Yes! Yes!" said Anita. "But only if you agree verbally to a third degree implantation. We must inform you, however, that this procedure is still in the level two testing stage and so we will not be liable for any damage, physical or psychological, that may result from your implantation or subsequent utilization of the implanted technology. Do you agree to these Terms and Conditions as well as any other which may be outlined on our official website under section 24-619A of the Third Degree Implant Terms and Conditions under sub-heading..."

"Yes!" Mr. Adair shouted. "I don't care what I have to do, just take me out of here! Make me a citizen! I can't take any more of this hell!"

There was short period of silence.

"That's been accepted as a verbal signature," said Anita. "He's in."

"Great," said Carson. "Well, we have to protect ourselves, Mr. Adair, so you can't come with us until our decontamination unit has checked you out and determined if you can be restored to a fully sanitary condition. We just submitted your approval, so they should be on the way now. Welcome to civilization, Mr. Adair! We look forward to seeing you online sometime!"

They both flashed him fake smiles and exited the building, as quickly as they could.

"Lower shields, Mr. Sulu," said Carson. "God, I wish the shield blocked off the stench!"

"I was about to go crazy from that stink," said Anita. "We look forward to seeing you online, yeah right! An ex-primal, I don't think so. Why did you even say that to him?"

"I don't know," he said. "who cares anyways, he'll be a bot in manufacturing, we're never gonna see him again. I could've said anything."

They got in the car and it began to navigate itself to their next application interview. In the mean time, they sat side by side, chipping.

"42 minutes and 12 second," chipped Anita. "We've got ages. Look at this, while you're waiting. 3,162 incidents of trolling on youtube by our next applicant, every one of them recorded in detail."

"WTF!" chipped Carson. "So, if trolling's been illegal since 2021, why is this guy not in jail? Isn't the trolling charge retro-active?"

"It sure is," chipped Anita. "But he was an early one, back in 2007 when youtube was still totally anonymous and trolls were having a heyday. He was behind two aliased accounts and a proxy server. It took this long to track him down. Once it was no longer anonymous, he smartened up and gave up the trolling. Unlike the others who went down in the great Troll Roundup of 2021, which increased prison populations by 10% but raised positivity on the Internet by 90%. This guy escaped the net, and fled to primal-land. And get this, we're the ones who offered HIM citizenship reinstatement."

"Got it!" Carson chipped, laughing out loud. "So we're trapping a troll! Activate cameras! This one is totally going on my Instagram, Facebook and everywhere! Aren't many trolls left, this is gonna be big! 10k new followers, easy! Find me an old school 'you mad, bro' meme, somebody!"

Some old school laughter followed. The citizens, both lying with their eyes closed, giggled in unison.

"On the other side", said Anita. "The first Karma Award results are in. Run by SMC and Subsidiaries, rewarding the unsung pioneers of social media and rooting out the secret trolls and overhyped scam artists, who shouldn't have been there in the first place."

"Yeah, I heard about it," Carson said. "I didn't like the Karma app, though. So, I deleted it. Just chip me the results."

"A woman, Cynthia Tibbs," she chipped. "was the overall winner this year. Records indicated she helped over 5,200 people since her beginnings in social media. SMCM and Subsidiaries diagnostics indicated she probably prevented 217 suicides, kept together 62 marriages and increased the over social media happiness index by over 6.2 billion points since she started, in 2010."

"Amazing," Carson chipped. "How did she do that?"

"Just by being a nice person," Anita chipped. "Always taking time to send nice replies and help those who ask for it. She was nice every day for 15 years. She didn't even know the effect. She's a retired school teacher! Just goes to show you don't know how much good you're actually doing. But, now that SMCM and Subsidiaries pay citizens for their work, upping the overall happiness index, she's got a huge retroactive payout! 217 million creds!"

"Whoa!" chipped Carson. "Did I tell you how beautiful you look, Anita? I love your eyes!"

Anita's happiness index rose by point two.

"Haha!" he said. "I saw my creds go up! I'm well on my way to my 217 million, just give me a few years. Maybe I can pull it off with your happiness index, alone, Anita. Then I don't have to leave the car. You look good every day!"

"Ha," said Anita. "Don't get your hopes up. Just to cherry pick the other awards, the inventor of the Most Interesting Man in the World meme was finally located, living in Idaho. He was awarded 52 million creds and released a meme... 'I don't always invent memes, but when I do, I win a Karma award.'"

"Nice," chipped Carson. "Anything else?"

"Jelly Bean," chipped Anita. "The cute little Pug/Pin/Chihuahua loved by millions, was voted above Grumpy Cat as the most loved celebrity animal in the early days of social media. The rich benefactor who originally funded her owner's fashion brand, MEGUMI•O, and indirectly caused Jelly Bean Mania, was awarded 105 millions creds for their contribution to early social media history. Jelly Bean has caused an estimated 11.2 billion point increase in the social media happiness index, since she was first brought out of obscurity and into the public eye." 

"What was wrong with Grumpy Cat?" chipped Carson. "He was pretty funny, well until the third movie came out, anyways."

"Yeah, but the judges disqualified him for suspected troll-like behavior," chipped Anita. "it was reported he lowered the happiness index among children and the elderly by about 52 million points, over the years. And, amazingly, once the trolls were jailed, Grumpy Cat sales went down by 60%. So that now... well you know. I hear he's in hiding somewhere in primal-land."

"Oh right," chipped Carson. "poor Grumpy..."

"Speaking of being in hiding," chipped Anita. "They tracked down the original inventor of the lolcat meme, and he's still in hiding. At least until the Karma Awards decide whether or not this was a plus or a minus, for social media. He'll either get a 'pioneer' award, which comes with 50 thousand creds or an 'unpunished criminal' award, which means he'll have to go primal. The citizens have been in a deadlock about it, so far. Lolcats have been upping and downing happiness scores pretty well evenly, since they were first invented."

"So they haven't decided on a 'Biggest Unpunished Criminals' award yet, I guess?" chipped Carson. "Not if the jury's still out on lolcats. Too bad, I'm looking forward to that one. Oh well, we still have 37 minutes and 22 seconds, so hopefully they come to a decision before we have to step back into primal-land."

The two citizens shut off their chip link and took a ten minute scheduled oxygenation break. Oxygen flooded the car and the battery meters on their brain pans began to slowly replenish. Within 10 minutes, their brains would be maximally oxygenated. It was quiet and peaceful, like a sensory deprivation chamber. You could not even detect the sound of the rain, wind and chaos, on the winding roads they hurtled along. Only the breath of life and the ticking of the happiness index app could be heard, as it slowly and readily incremented.

Writer's Note: This is a future I neither endorse, nor decry. As a writer, I am simply imagining a possible reality. It's up to the world, out there, to decide if this is the direction it is planning on going.