Living on the Wire

Screengrab from John Carpenter’s They Live

In the year 3019, a sizeable group of human beings took off onboard the spacecraft humorously nicknamed by some fringe elements the spacovert (space + introvert). The group could in no way claim to be a noticeable player in the mainstream human drama, yet its members were determined. Each one of them had, in fact, parted ways with 1.2 million dollars before she could secure a presence in the adventure. The money wasn’t something you had to somehow make in addition to the usual cost of living, though. The company PR Department had made sure that it was clearly stated on every piece of advertisements, in whatever shape or form, that as soon as you stepped into the space, you would not have to concern yourself with such trivialities as the cost of living. The contract footprint made it clear that every body will be kept active for as long as a continually training model of human longevity determined that the moment of death had not statistically occurred for that particular individual.

What about expenses, while onboard the ship? The company was vague on this topic. While the “user” of the service, as passengers were addressed commonly in the legal documents, would not hold any particular job for the rest of her life, it was made clear that food, shelter, and, beyond all, pleasure, was going to be an abundant commodity. Even in that time and age, however, there were still some brains around that could manage to ask what the other side of the equation that led into this utopia requested in return. Nothing. The user is free to act as she pleases, obviously within the realm of legal activities, and the company would merely observe the user. That was it. The user would allow the company to observe her while she did everything that she did. In theory, one did not have to agree to being observed all the time, yet the more your were observed, the more pleasurable the space became. It made sense, therefore, to let them observe you 24/7 except for extremely private sessions, and those one would want to shorten as well.

So, that’s how the story unfolds. The ship takes off and the passengers claim their seats, then they push the buttons and dive into a space of positive nothingness.

If I could write, I would author science fiction novels and make a lot of money and stop having a fixed address and travel the world wrapped in the warm humid euphoria of the act of existing. And my novels would, on the surface, be nothing out of ordinary. Imaginable extensions of the contemporary. Just more of everything, along every dimension. Farther would be more accessible and smaller would be more intimate. But that would be a setup. I would lure the reader , through that fake promise of familiarity, into a dark space of turmoil and disaster, the inevitability of destruction, the humiliation of irrelevance, and before the reader could manage to console herself that her composure is devastated by mere fiction, I would cut through the facade of the story and expose its treacherous heart to the reader and make it clear to her that what she has read is a true depiction of her everyday life, except for a thin layer of deception that I have wrapped my story in.

If I could write, and if I did write, and if I became famous, then some future literary critic would describe my work as an incarnation of the sunglasses that Nada found in John Carpenter’s They Live. Except, people will pay money for mine.

I don’t think the question is whether or not one must maintain a presence on the social media. The circumstance begs a more elaborate formulation based on the dynamics of power. Hence, given any arbitrary balance of power between the user and Facebook, a particular optimal point could be outlined, most probably through an iterative stochastic optimization model.

Above all, the present situation is a close encounter between man and machine, albeit the machine is a mechanism of exploitation devised by a group of men. Hence, for all that matters, every single Facebook user may run away from it into some notion of safety. None of the “survivors”, however, would have the same option when machines take over the job of determining if a driving accident victim should receive care at the ER.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *