The way characters came through gave away a woman who learned typing on touchscreen phones popular in 2010’s. One could almost see her thumbs still bumping at the glass of iPhone 5C that her grandma bought her for her thirteenth birthday. But at the moment characters didn’t flow in constant rhythm. They’ve come instead in short bursts with long intermissions. She was obvious under duress, probably crying, too. She wrote
“and then I got fired”
The silence permeated the chat room.
I know the girl under x3cia handle for quite some time now. She is one of the turks working for CrowdRabbit, a shady corporation offering execution of illegal tasks out of work havens. Most of the tasks given to her were variation of Turing tests as various underground developers of AI tried to both teach their systems new tricks as well to demonstrate their equivalency to human performance - an important selling point when dealing with click-hunters, poker gamers, and all other fraudster trying to make an easy buck on-line.
“what should I do now. I’m not of a creative type. I need rhythm. I need to be told what to do. Otherwise I’ll just go crazy. I don’t sleep at night due to anxiety. Pretending to be a human at least got me through the day”
It was just one long tirade of characters in front of me.
She told me about her friends before. All start-up people, music mashers, with ideas buzzing around all the time.
“If this were the old ages, I’d be the one reaping buckwheat, not plotting against the lord or running for cities.”
x3cia is not alone in her plight. I get to meet many boys and girls who feign their creativity and ambition in front of their peers and parents while in reality they crave for simple tasks that don’t require devotion and commitment. Their needs provided by basic income guarantee, these thirty-somethings can’t even find pleasure in Biarritz anymore, and they are long ago fed up by the dance parties on Croatian coast.
The problems of these people were seeded already in the first two decades of the 21st century as first simple and later also complicated tasks were automated by computers, and only complex tasks requiring full attention remained. Their woes were further excarberated by the introduction of basic income guarantee in 2021 which at first seemed like a gift from heaven. All the privileges, no requirements, and etheral good time in low costs countries. But with the increasing feeling of redundancy, the anxiety started to kick in. The lucky ones got hooked on heroin and spent all their days either looking for an angry fix or making local mafia bosses rich at some commune in rural Tuscany. But majority of youths of x3cia type were put on neuropsychotherapy long before they could form any non-officialy sanctioned addiction and become a menace to society.
“And you know I need antidepressants. The real ones. Not the shit on the list sanctioned by the government that official money can buy for you. I need the real stuff. The stuff only available for bitcoins that CrowdRabbit pays.”
There was nothing I could say to her. The top corporations paid top money to the best and brightest, and prescription drugs were dispensed to them as candy. But for the rest, the majority, the prey of advertisers, the non-actors, without the looks, the youth, experience, and drive, the NSFW didn’t exist, couldn’t exist. Real pills, porn, and poker are only available to the elite, all the rest get supplements which get you through the day but just don’t cut it through the night. A result of barbaric political ploy which aims to give to the masses just enough to subdue them, but not sufficient to really satisfy them - a strange interplay of protestant asceticism and statism of eastern nations.
And it was actually people in marketing industry that got all this started. They were the first to realize that all the billboards and display ads are there only to induce artificial needs and exploit primal layers of our personality. They have started to ask if there’s some other way. Could we get society going, but without people doing all the bullshit jobs that advertising creates. And they started with this noble idea that people are in principle creative and full of ideas and all, but they just lack time and energy which is sucked out of them producing yet more stuff or yet more demand for the stuff so that everybody is kept busy. And they have said we have all this complicated welfare system, and all this money, and let’s just simplify it and give everybody some remittance and let people decide for themselves if they’ll go for more or just be fine with what they have.
It was an easy sell. They were the marketing people and the idea itself appealed to the masses. In just couple of iterations the political parties got aboard and the deal was done. Majority gets the safety they have never known, while the elite gets a social experiment. As was so often the case in history, to solve the personal problems of few the pain was inflicted on the many.
“I’ll just kill myself. I know I will!”
x3cia was typing in the chat window. I knew she wouldn’t. She wasn’t entrepreneurial enough to change anything in her life,much less to kill herself. But her words made me anxious still. This got all too real for me to handle. I panicked.
A simple instruction to chat agent and connection was lost. Her plight non-existant, her story obliterated, but her name still buzzing in my head. Was she real, is her story true, or is she just another bot trying to get my attention with emotion-baity story only to come out at the end with solicitation for yet another weight-losing solution. Cloudz were beyond regulation and control, but not beyond the reach of advertisers hunting for prey and an easy click.
Title painting by Miha Štrukelj, 7th Ave., 40x50 cm, Oil on canvas, 2013