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