By Revella Leif
“..Put in your password.”
“Americon is telling us there is a problem with your account. But we don’t know why.”
“I know that!”
“If your password is right, it should work.”
“That’s why I hit my head up against the wall!”
“Hmm… I’d be upset too if I had to….” The iOS2012 stumped. Snickers of two young gens sounded from behind the desk. A library staff worker walked toward me oblivious of her co-workers as if guided by some unseen force. As quickly as she had come the staff worker turned around and routinely walked in the other direction.
“Maybe you have CAPS on, try it at home.” The iOS2012 answered in its matter-of-fact way. “I-don’t-know, I fail to explain it any other way.”
Looking annoyed the two librarians didn’t answer and returned to doing their different tasks. I can’t figure out why many others have not noticed the implementation, or how they got here.
At home my parents call it “conscious death,” a term repeated through New Community. Outside of New community many ignore my presence. Inside I’m screaming for even one outsider to hear me..to care, even if only through my own telepathy.
I don’t even remember anything changing–It just happened. All I remember is going off to college (as all Smart Gen’s were expected to do). Now everything was about keeping up with SMART protocol, and that meant continuing to be a functional part of society. Not even parents within New Community could object to it—SMART protocol had replaced New Community and their was little my mom could say. Still I couldnt help begging my mom to explain why I had to forgo all the values she had instilled in me for the sake of this stupid Smart Protocol shit.
“They don’t know everything! They don’t even have a brain!” I’d argue. Not sure what I meant by ‘they’. I knew it was ultimately a losing battle, people were nowhere near change, and only continuing to get ‘smarter’— it was not worth risking New Community. My mom was right here was only the last bit of reality I could turn to and all I could do was fight to preserve it.
Then four years later I returned to New district. On break my last before graduation, one of the surrealist moments of my life. I was a big sister now. A sister to someone I hardly even recognized. If it weren’t for my mom’s high cheekbones and assertive eyebrows she had inherited I still wouldn’t of known her. I stopped recognizing my family that day.
My sister was 5 now and creeping me out with her bizarre fifteen year old antics. Throwing off iSP stats : who was the most sought after celebrities, the most popular shows, the most utilized phones (SMART, of course) to the most popular SMART platforms, at an horrifying rate of replication. Here my sister was going off a mile a minute about nothing my parents ever remotely even cared about. I looked at my mom in shock telepathically asking why my sister, I barely knew, couldn’t slow down for two seconds.
“Hyper seconds ?” she corrected me with a smile.
My mom laughed, her jaw dropping a little as if she couldnt believe it. I felt embarrassed, my cheeks warming, caught in my own lie.
“Aww, Sweetie, she’s just being a typical kid—!“
“Typical Gen.” my sister corrected, before my mom could even reach ‘honey??’, she said in that sarcastic voice.
I gave my mom an even angrier look, “Typical kids are not part of this family!” I shot back at her, this time out loud.
If my mom had said it ten years ago, maybe I would have believed her, the SMART protocol still very new then. I had to wonder if I had ever even caught up. The subtleties of change were still obvious. I felt like I was the infiltrator, a virus in my own family, my emotions now got the best of me, but I didn’t have the energy to fight her on this one. In shock now- I chose to run.
I wondered what dad would say.
In my earlier attempts and frustration I tried to corner my sister pointing out the obvious. Everywhere there were girls taller than me not even old enough for SMART school. How could I have not noticed the magnitude of it all around me. I wondered the whole rest of the week passing older Gen after older Gen each seemingly getting shorter. My dad who had averaged 5’9, here my sister was towering at 6’1. She just gave me one of those wide smiles common for her generation
“It’s the McGen dummy, even I know that!” she giggled, everything now a joke. The Active Gen’s get taller, the lazy older gens get shorter” she said now, with a look of amazement like why didn’t -I- get it??
Somehow, literally overnight, McGen’s had become a cult whom all the newer gens were more than honored to be a part of. GMO’s had not been banned across Europe for a decade now and many older gens had just learned to ignore the obvious. Her school had already preached all the good of society to be gained by the irreconcilable Young Gen. Maybe two decades ago I would have jumped at the chance to gain a whole foot too I once thought.
My sister found ways to tell me in more ways than one that computers were the smart ones now, that we should stop being old gens and just accept it. With that same replicated look of fascination for even objecting. Who wouldn’t want to be like SMART protocol! she scoffed. The transition between ai2021more and more obvious now. I wondered what my parents really thought. Did they think anything…….
“I’m not a fan of Obama care.”
“I think it’s greatt!” the ai2021 bot chimed, like Tony the Tiger (an older gen would know).
The librarian now running off a rhetorical list of reason’s it was no good, common for Old Gen’s as they did in their own antiquated computational way.
Even I found it hard to side with her now, I thought, embarrassed how old fashioned she sounded. But I knew they knew, like me, sensed something was fundamentally wrong even if it was too far past them to recognize. I tried not to look her direction even as I secretly sympathized with the librarian.
“Yeah but when your mom or dad gets in a car accident you will want them to be registered with SMARTcare.”
The librarian shook her head still disagreeing, however in vain it was. It was politically incorrect to talk about politics I thought, let alone in a public library, and yet even I could feel the tension but it was clear she wasn’t going to win this one.
“..I think SMARTcare was an unfortunate compromise it should look like the rest of the civilized world” the ai2021, argued.
Civilized, I thought. How does one define civilized anymore I caught myself almost thinking out loud. Humans didn’t get any smarter than a [Note: EDIT] that was clear, the new SMART was as ‘simple’ as the newest split speed software protocol and humans had to adapt in whatever ways natural evolution had left.
“..I’m just saying…” she trailed out ..“If there’s somewhere else…”
“I know. They do that in Canada, I know what you’re going to say.”
Canada, we were no better there. It was an obvious victory.
Giving up, “maybe you are right, we may never know what’s real and what’s not, no matter what we do. ”
“Look, I’m not trying to be a jerk” my friend said,
“I’m also not trying to look delusional and I don’t need my best friend losing it either.” Coming from her that was heartfelt. “Things may very well be changing right in front of our faces [name]–look at them their all zombies no one pays attention to new community anymore! And I’m not looking to be a voluntary outcast Lynn..I’m just..I’m ju–” she looked at me with frustration but I could see her own confusion stirring inside. I couldn’t hold it against her even if I wanted to. We were in the same boat.
I disarmed her by unloading a cigarette and reaching her way, one cigarette fell out , the reflection of the sun just causing enough glare on the cellophane to block out the image of decapitated lungs on the box. These days smokers were shunned. Every time when lighting one I cringed at the thought of my sister and her group of teeny bopper gens staring at me in amazement during sleepovers when I’d walk in, box of cigarettes in hand inside their useless chatter as my sister holds her own public announcement, I puffed at just the thought of it.
“Why does your sister do that?” I hear one gasp through the patio screen. Smoke, I thought.
“I don’t knoww,” my sister answered as if apologizing for having a sister aware I had rained on her party.
“I’ve told her what they do, what Mrs. Cole told us, she won’t listen–she knows thats only what old gens do !” hesitation in her voice. “Maybe she’s…. dumb!”
All her friends grew silent . The changing images off the television reflected through the patio door and off my shoulder, back and forth bodies bounced around back and forth to the beat of a dance recital.
In this argument she was right. Smoking had been my last requiem to the madness, my personal protest. If I was gonna go away to SMART college and ignore all my parents had fed me, siphoned off from new community, become a ‘meaningful’–SMART gen for the sake of new society, then damn, I was gonna at least be able to have a last smoke.
[DREAM] A man sits besides me as he wheezes with labored breathing both of us sitting there for the last bus on the new line. A pretty brown moth flies past my head with brown and white speckles, on the back wings two beautiful blue eyes, it flies into the bus stop and lands on the window pane. For a minute I stare at it in the corner of my eye wondering the next thing it was going to do and as if suddenly noticing the scope of its situation it frantically begins flapping at the long rectangular wing, up and down, up and down, the sun probably burning each touch. I can’t take it anymore, around me the others look right past it centering every bit of attention on the scrolling of the bus line. I get up with a newspaper I retrieve out of my bag and scoop it up, one glass panel to the next, each pick up making it more frantic. It finally fly’s out of its encampment. In that minute I imagined I could feel its same freedom as some tension also lifted off of me
…then as if a light switch tturned back on, I’m reminded like a tiny whispering in my ear: Just another bot.
It wasn’t like my mom to be so nonchalant, I knew it, it was for school, thats all it was, so I believed. She completely dodges me for the first time.
I stared at that screen long after my friend walked off knowing this was the start of something, some kind of evolution of something.
Off at college, back to having fun with friends I had finally starting to ignore life. Or the other life. Suddenly all computer screens turn black, blink, a message read “Charlie 1 Initiatiom”–my heart pounded. My friends making light of it and laughing more, so I go along in jest.
“–Hey mom, you remember that test”
“Test? Which one, I think you mentioned your Spanish test briefly”
“Nooo, you know, what they called, the Charlie 1 thing”
“Maybe just one of those National Broadcast Alerts, I wouldn’t pay any mind to it darling”
I knew there would come a time when I would be called to work. From the way my mother used to describe it I would become nothing more than a machine, a piece of property for the Greater Good. At least the benefits were good. Stock in the company your pilot year, insurance after three which were enormous for the economic conditions of our time. But that’s what it took to get the Old Gen to cash out and transition. Give their lives over without a fight and that is what we’d be expected to do as Old Gens. Rarely did a person live out past three years once they transitioned. The stock was just a short term investment to make up for the debris train and replace a machine that had defaulted.
This a Young Gen could still see but for the Old still trying to catch up to this enormous new pace of life the cost was enormous. This I believed every Old Gen deep down could see. That before they could even recognize the changes had been made the damage had been done. The society they had been brought up in was just another filament of their and everyone else’s imagination, back up into the Ethosphere
EiOStein had been quoted saying the time was here. Where the grapples of technology itself would surpass man and all of his creations, but what good if no Gen knew what this new Time even looked like. That was well over a millennia ago now.
Nobody paid much mind now the technology was in the process of transforming everything we had known, making it phenomenally better (the pharmaceutical engine we had been told would displace unproduction. I hated this word “Production” now) than what existed, somehow the ingenuity of man had succeeded they’d tell us. The threshold had been met even exceeded for the better of all man and every Young Gen.
I don’t know what changed in my parents, maybe nothing at all but the hope had run dry everything that had been taught to me, now all was left was for me to teach the Word. My parents always promised me I could use my passion to write to also carry the vision , I remembered that, but getting them to talk about it now was useless.
This was when everything wasn’t so deserted with every man being “Productive”. Writing had all become obsolete now. It had been revealed that all along writers had evolved to receive information outside of the Ethosphere. And it was taboo to reveal any aspirations to do so. I remember the first time I told my parents my plans after they had become Productive Ones.
1. the secret is that their was a story in all of us, our DNA
Cigarettes : the one thing that have been permitted. Encouraged Unproduction, but also served to make one defenseless. Lazy. Only caring about ones next fix. Unquestioning as long as they had it.