Sunday came but no black out. So she did not go to the park. The news that night reported a break-up of a terrorist cell. One of the pictures of the terrorist was the man with whom she had communicated. This at first had terrified her but she rationalized that if they had not come for her yet., they were not going to.
But now she knew that there were people out there resisting Lifebook. She must find out how to contact them. She played the report on the terrorist over and over looking for some kind of clue to where she might find other ‘terrorist’. She finally found it. In the pictures of the arrest there was a bookbag which she suddenly realized was a pictogram of sorts. It showed another possible place to meet. But she knew you could not go there until there was a Lifebook blackout. Otherwise, she would be discovered. The place was a statue in a city park.
Now she would have to wait and hope the blackout would come. Two months went by and no blackout. She knew there must be another way. Maybe she would have to make it. She began to research on LIfebooks persons who may be allies. She was on Lifebooks day and night. Searching for the right people to contact. Interestingly enough her own watchership [viewership?] went down. People bored quickly over her constant looking at Lifebooks and moved on. She was doing nothing of interest.
Months later when she felt as though there could be no one left to discover she quit. But now she had to be careful in her next move. She also realized the less activity the less watchers. With less watchers she had less chance of being caught. Her parents had become worried about her obsession with Lifebooks. Especially since now it seemed to replace many of her other activities.
She had even lost some of her friends in her search. It had been as though she had disappeared from the Earth. The first few contacts with her chosen few did not go well. She spent the next moths approaching the individuals she had marked and gathering firsthand information about them. In the end she did not think they would be the right type. During this time as she became more active her watchers picked back up.
It was at this time the sad realization came to her to escape Lifebooks and its watchers she must become totally immersed in Lifebooks. She began to calculate which were the activities that would bore her watchers. Her goal was to lose all of her watchers. What if what she did was so mind numbing boring that the watchers left. Then with no watchers could she take that moment to disappear from sight.
She started. She fasted. She pushed buttons on her computer. She never talked. She just existed. She never left the house. Watchers left by the droves but something strange happened after a year. The watchers that were left became fascinated if she would ever do anything of import. So they tuned in to see if she would finally speak. She became a cult hero.
Her following grew. Imitators started throughout the nation. Her cult following became so big that the government became concerned. They were no longer concerned about what she might do but now were fixated on what she was not doing. One quarter of the population were now doing nothing. Another quarter were supporting her followers in their endeavors. They became like the desert monks. They lived outside of society. Society in appreciation began to bring them food so they would not have to leave their rooms and keep up their unending search of Lifebooks. The few times they uttered words were discussed and given all manner of meanings. Every small move made for weeks of interpretive parsing for the nation.
But as all fads this fandom passed. And she was left with her Lifebooks and the watchers again began to leave. Two more years out and she only had a few watchers. Her mother was one, as she tried desperately to understand what her daughter was doing. On the third year and two hundred second day she was left with only her mother as a watcher. She could leave now but they would know her mother was watching and would hold her responsible for Maya’s disappearance. But the secret was to make her mother leave too without any due drama that might create more watchers.
She looked into the camera and said leave. No one knows exactly what she meant by this. Her
mother felt she was being told to not watch. Others felt she was saying to them it was time to leave. And yet others felt she was describing what she was about to do. Her mother did leave. She left undetected never to be found again. But in the dark web of Lifebooks the video of her one word credo inspired many to pick up and leave. No matter how many times the government tried to squash the video it always appeared in another place and another time. It became as ubiquitous as the Andre the Giant graffiti.
Today, everyone studies the tapes of Maya’s life to understand what happened. A new cult bigger than the former started. The one word she would pronounce when she returned was ‘back’. The new cult anxiously waited for the day when she would return and take them away to a land free from Lifebooks. ‘Leave’.
This is the first part of a two part story. The next entry will be Saturday at 10am.
It started with Big Brother the reality TV show. People wanted to watch other people’s lives. Finding no substance in their own lives they thought the watching of other’s lives would somehow explain their own existence. The concept is not without any merit. But the problem with reality shows were that Hollywood decided for you what lives might interest you. Many times these were the more exotic or problematic lives. After all, no one would want to watch the ordinary lives. But people became fascinated with the lives of their friends on Facebook and even followed the daily goings on of each other on Twitter. There seem to be no limit to what people wanted to know about others.
This was the beginnings of where we find ourselves in the year 2100. Slowly the demand for knowing all the details of each other’s lives and the development of new technology led to what today is called Lifebooks. People no longer were able to see just the face you may want to present on Facebook but now they had access to every aspect of your life by live stream mini cameras that recorded every moment of your life.
The government loved and promoted it. They saw it as a distraction from what they were doing. They also saw it as a crime prevention tool. So they gave people tax breaks and incentives to participate in Lifebooks. People on Lifebooks were given salaries according to their audience. This had the side effect of people becoming more and more adept at self-promotion and trying to live more and more creative lives.
Eventually, every newborn was placed on Lifebooks unless the legal guardians pursued the paperwork and litigation not to have their child on Lifebooks. They also had to be willing to pay yearly taxes for their non-participation. So only those rabid radicals who wished to live off the grid were not included.
Maya had lived her life on Lifebooks from the beginning. All of her friends were on it. She kept up with them as they did her all day and night. It became a natural way of being. Her parents fussed about it and hearken back to the more low tech days and less invasive times of Facebook and Twitter. She laughed at their old ways.
But sometimes when she went to the doctor she wished she could turn off Lifebooks. But she knew when you did this a Lifebook agent would be at your door in thirty minutes and your parents would be fined and your choices of college would grow less. The insurance companies were anxious to keep Lifebooks on at times like these. But still talking to your doctor about acne issues while the whole world would be watching was embarrassing.
Her parents lived simply and did not promote their own sites. People of course interpreted this as they lived boring lives. Some people had developed a scam and paid some of their watchers half of the government money they earned for each watcher. Of course this was illegal and one person did not earn you much money worth the pay. But if you could obtain a hundred of these watchers you would be talking about money that made the legal risks worth it.
Maya like her parents did not promote her site. But still she had several thousand watchers. This was not a pleasant thought for her because she could not possibly know three fourths of them. So there were people who knew intimate details about her and who she could cross paths with on the streets and not even know them.
But compared to her friends she was isolated as they all engaged full force to get their Lifebooks’ watchers. They became addicted to growing their watcher numbers. It was hard to be friends with the more popular LIfebookers because every time you were with them you were seen by all their watchers and were guaranteed more watchers on your own book. So she deliberately chose to hang out with friends whose Lifebook watchers were not huge. But there were those enterprising Lifebookers who became your best friend for a couple of weeks just to recruit from your watchers.
This led to Maya’s heart being broken as these ‘friends‘ would show interest in her but would leave letting her know that she had been used. And always as everything else in her life it was a public humiliation. So she learned to be distrustful of new people and how to keep her feelings buried deep inside her. She never had mother and daughter talks these attracted too big of an audience. She could not wait to grow old because watchers loved seeing the young on Lifebooks. Most older folks lost watchers as they reached a certain age.
Maya began to realize she had a longing for privacy although she was not sure what this looked like. She knew she acted differently because she was watched. The criminologists had rightly proclaimed Lifebooks would decrease the crime rate. But Maya wanted to say what she thought and to do what she wanted but that was hard while others watched you. Of course some people made a show of being watched. They flourished with eyes on them. But Maya hated it. She would never ham it up for the cameras. She thought this was too much like lying. But she had come to realize all her life was a lie. She never did a natural act. She too was playing to the cameras only not as flamboyantly.
One day she thought the impossible she no longer wanted to be on Lifebooks. People joked the only way off of Lifebooks was through death. In fact this joke was put into practice many years ago when a rash of suicides occurred. But the government stepped in and began the anti-suicide laws. If you committed suicide someone in your family would be executed and one anonymous watcher on your Lifebook. This made the persons thinking about suicide think long and hard about ending their lives. This also caused the anonymous watchers to inform the government of any unusual behavior that might indicate someone was suicidal. This was not an option any longer for anyone who was not a psychopath.
She had heard about people going off the grid but she had never met anyone. And you certainly could not ask while on Lifebook if anyone knew how to go off grid. The word on the street if you did ask someone you would have an agent of Lifebook come visit you and your family. All the while the agent assured you and your family you could go off grid they reminded you of the severe
consequences of such a move.
The only place Maya found she could be free was in her dreams but now new technology was being made that could make your dreams visible to watchers. Many an adolescent boy was horrified of the day this technology would become available. They said the technology was only year away and another year before it would be able to come online for Lifebook. The last bastion of freedom would soon be gone. Maya was determined to be off line before the ‘Dreamcatcher’ came on line. She had to have some place for freedom.
She determined a plan of action. She developed a plan that at the same time every day she would tap Morse Code out in different ways so that hopefully a careful watcher would notice and offer her an answer. Morse Code was now only known by a few people it was in fact almost an extinct language in 2100. She knew using the code would be a long shot especially since she knew this would have to be done over at least a month if not longer because the Lifebook agents watched various pages for abnormalities.
Everyday as she sat in the school lunchroom she tapped two words with a spoon she ‘nervously’ held in her hand. For three months she tapped out a message hoping someone would notice. After the third month she gave up only to be approached by someone who smiled at her and began to drum their fingers on their book bag. It was Morse code. But they did not stop to say who they were they tapped out a short message and then walked on without a look or a word. For the next few weeks the person would turn up in different places with their bookbag and their nervously tapping fingers.
The answer she received was that there would be a blackout of Lifebook on next Sunday and for her to meet him at the park. She could hardly wait. But she could not show excitement or a sudden happier mood. She must keep to her daily mood and routine and wait
Savannah has coffee shops. They are many and varied. Each having their own vibe. Although I do not drink coffee, I find myself in them often. Either I am writing or socializing. They are a significant part of my life. Besides my house and libraries I spend more of my time in coffee shops than anywhere else.
My very first coffee shop was the Gallery Expresso. It is a nouveau shop with hors’ oeuvres and great sweets. It is always crowded but I went because it was my first. It was the place I took my wife on our first date after a play. It was in conversation there I discovered we could have a good life together. It is also the place my oldest daughter flooded the bathroom. We could see our embarrassed child and water coming out from under the door. We rushed out and I can no longer return. I pass it in my car but can only look at it longingly from afar now.
The Sentient Bean is the “coffee shop as movement” place I love to go. There is fair trade coffee, vegetarian food, music in the evenings, and public forums. It is also the place a friend declared “they will never make it’ (referring to the two young women fresh out of college Kelli and Kristin). He exclaimed their business plan sucked, was too utopian, and could not possibly last. Twenty years later it is still there even though the competition has become pretty stiff. I often avoid the Sentient Bean because I know too many people there and I am supposedly writing.
Foxy Loxy is the coffee shop that is only half bohemian. They have good sweets and light Mexican fare. It is the current darling of the Savannah community. Located across from a SCAD building and the library, they are always full. But on one magical day my oldest daughter and I had a moment in the trees on the balcony of the house. I have attended a wedding in the back courtyard and have shared moments with friends there too. Because heaven knows I cannot resist the darling of Savannah.
The Mate Factor is actually not a coffee shop but a mate shop. It is run by the Twelve Tribes Commune. You enter and it is Cracker Barrel chic. It has a beautiful wood farmhouse feel about it. A staff straight out of Little House on the Prairie and who always have impeccable smiles on their face. They have music on a track they play over and over as if in an attempt to pull some commune brainwashing on you. And for some reason everyone is carrying on a religious conversation. Which reminds me to tell the young men at the table next to me considering the ministry, ‘Do not do it’. But the atmosphere is nice and they have one of my favorite sandwiches and the best muffins so I find myself listening and slowly being converted to the ways of the Twelve Tribes.
Savannah Coffee Roasters is big and always has a table. They have great sweets, and a comedy club group meets on the second floor. So I go there. The lines can be long with tourists as it is situated next to a hotel but it is a great people-watching place. They claim to have been around since 1909. A claim that needs to offer an explanation when The Oldest Coffee Shops in America are listed as Café Du Monde, New Orleans (1862) Caffè Reggio, New York City (1927) Caffe Vittoria, Boston (1929) Caffe Trieste, San Francisco (1956). One day I will get to the bottom of this.
The Coffee/Deli is what you would expect in a coffee shop in a strip mall. The aesthetics, while not great, are sufficient. But the sun can be blinding at certain times of the day as it comes through the front glass wall. My favorite incident there was when my daughter Dorothy came in with her friend gave me a side wave as if to conceal it from her friends but a few moments later, she is acknowledging me as she pours on her charm and says “Hi Dad. Things going alright. Since you are here Dad can I borrow money for me and my friends to have drinks.” It is good to know she cares and still finds me useful.
The Friendship Coffee House on Wilmington Island is fairly new. I go there to meet two old friends Jan and Margy. They require my presence every so often to collect money for Joined In Giving or when I have not seen them recently. The first time I went, I noticed I was the only man in the coffee house. I instantly felt macho until my ordered avocado toast came. I should have ordered the triple 100% all beef burger but instead I blended in just fine.
These are the main coffee shops I go to in Savannah. So if you ever want to see me, look in a coffee shop. I will be hiding in a corner. I will not have coffee but tea instead and will be seeking a little solitude to write. No coffee, not seeking community; how anti-coffee shop can you get? I guess I forever will be the Coffee Shop Interloper.