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Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Cybernetwork's Reality (a dystopia sketch, a college assignment)

Good morning, everyone!

It's sunny outside here in the outskirts of Montreal, and I'd bet it is like this at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Qualifying Session of the 2014 FIA Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix. I can't honestly remember when there was another day like this, although I did went on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge myself last year to hear the noises of them V12 Indy-based racing cars roaming around one of the most complicated racing tracks in the world.

It's the fact that the entire track is resembling a partial outline of Ile Notre-Dame, one of the two islands that was built in the 1960s from the leftover rock Montreal decided to recycle in building the subway system, known as the Montreal Métro. There are a few exceptions, but it's still a very complicated course because it doesn't occupy as much land space as other tracks like Jerez in Spain or Sepang in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. There are so many turns in this track, and also one tight hairpin; if you take a look at the track layout online, you'll see why I'm talking about this. At least it does have a straightaway for drivers to push their machines to the limit.

Just one thing bothers me; earlier this morning, I went on Facebook to witness some bad news about the most recognizable F1 driver: Michael Schumacher. He's still in a serious treatment for a coma two months after his skiing accident in France. I can't understand why, but I was a little too fixed on him when I was younger, only to be soon replaced by the young Lewis Hamilton.

Anyway, what I bring to you in this blog post is another Creative Writing assignment; the last one in that course I've taken last fall. It's a dystopian sketch less than 800 words long, but it can be disturbing for a small and apprentice writing, because it revolves around one major thing that most of us in the world love. Whenever technology encapsulates our interest, we pay attention more and more into it until at one point, that technology controls us in which we are manipulated and forget about realities from the outside. It's sort of like Disney and Pixar's WALL-E where when our robot boards the Axiom, he witnesses a bizarre control of the corporation Buy 'n' Large on all the humans on board. It takes just an outsider to wake up others and witness the reality and troubles of living in a dystopian society.

What I'll do is share with you the story, and then afterwards discuss more about my knowledge of dystopia fictions. So, enjoy reading!

Fred Smartz's bedroom. Year 2033. Bethesda, Maryland.

                Fred suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night from the sound of his phone buzzing. He checks it out and realizes that someone tagged him in a Bitstrips comic posted on Facebook.

                Fred loads up the comic for him to glance at, and soon the bright light reveals to him four quadrants of his friends ranting out at Fred, with a compiled caption: "Fred will not work as Fred, but rather, another Facebook life. Fred will not dissatisfy Facebook." Fred gasps at the multiple comments containing such ignorance.

                Fred returns to his news feed, and witnesses thousands and thousands of posts made by anyone using this vast world: current tasks, events, birthdays, page posts, advertisements, Bitstrips comics, cyberbullying, negative publicity including private credit card numbers, assaults, games, and other kinds of acts that represent a cyber-user. Statuses are littered with people ordering foods and take outs, clothing, home supplies, and all of the wonder from the market. Additionally, statuses appeared showing people being cyber-dependent on others, leaving users with ineffective psychology. In every post includes a guaranteed statement that says, "Regarded by the associates of the Rules and Regulations set out by Marc Zuckerberg and Facebook, Inc."

                Just why is this happening, Fred thought. Can it be that Facebook is now our humanity, with this much quota and fraud? Can't realism of sorts exist?

                Fred clicks on the overlapping message bubbles, then on the link "New message." Message to? High school friend Trevor. In that message, a simple hello. Send button clicked; message transmitted. Come on, Trevor. Come on... Within failure, about two minutes in, Fred traverses to Trevor's page by the search engine, and types this Wall Post: "Get in touch with me, Trevor. Facebook message."

                The next grief moment, one window pops up with "Trevor" on top. There, Fred and Trevor exchange communication about Facebook being a socially good networking system. Formulate a proposal, according to Fred, to establish more good and to sacrifice the system for life in ways where things go back to everyone's wishes instead of one's wishes over others. Result of this one control? Far beyond what others are to exhibit their freedom for, ending in far more good than anyone attained up to date.

                A strike icon pops up in Fred's chat screen, and says "Do not to communicate any longer with Trevor. Please refrain from messaging immediately." Fred closes up his chat screen, puts his phone to screen saver, then abandons to sleeping.

                Next morning, Fred leaps onto Facebook from his phone, again. Again, he thought. Again and again and again. Fred notices a padlock below the white text area. Tap on it, reads "Public." On the selection menu for it consists of several spread options. Maybe by limiting who can see this, then perhaps the people will no longer experience hypnosis. Bing! Bing! Another Facebook warning issued: "If you fail to bond to the Rules and Regulations, you face Facebook Police charges."

Fred taps on it twice, and selects "Friends." He types up his friends' names in the text area for tagging, then types up "Facebook at this point: not real. Not user-friendly; bad Facebook!" Fred types up more, with his conspiracy surrounding Facebook, and then sends it out onto his profile. No freedom, no independence, no protection, all because of Zuckerberg and Facebook, Inc., he thought. 24 hours a day. All humanity on negative side with dehumanizing acts, especially cyberbullying.

Later on that morning, Fred smiles from Trevor's plan for a larger conspiracy launch. To camouflage as Fred on his profile, let Fred start a new account, then spread publicly to read Trevor's speech on the praise of Facebook.
Operation commenced. Hope this works, Fred thought. He sets up a new account while Trevor gets onto Fred's profile to subvert moderators. Fred writes on the new wall, with the power of boosting posts, to follow up on Trevor and comprehend the out-of-this-world phenomenon. In complying to the rules, the duo swap back their positions again.

Overtime, through numerous ads on the good of Facebook, more and more users start following. And bigger, and bigger, and bigger, only for Facebook moderators to notice. One major warning issued saying that the violation of the law results in termination of the account plus criminal charges. But even then, the absence of total control has made way for an audience to soon perceive what Fred perceives as threatening and full corruption. 

Fred and Trevor hide back to their obligated business. When their sights came back the next day, a special gift came to them: "Trevor and Fred, us humans now making issues and bulletins against Marc Zuckerberg and Facebook, Inc."

Dystopian stories, depending on how much theme and meaning is put forward, and how things can really make sense, can be powerful in some way, and thus it would influence us to look forward for more freedom and more connections between the people of nations, or even those in an international world. The advantage of reading such an extraordinary story is that, we can see what are the rights that have been interloped on us, what kind of perception we have, and see what it would take to counteract the sort of control that powerful influence has over us on a negative basis. Governments, technology, man, or even a computer program, are some of the things that can influence us into a terrible way of conduct with people and lack of rights.

I know a few works that can be based on dystopia.

A very awesome dystopian book I know of is George Orwell's Animal Farm. It is also a novel filled with satire, because we can criticize the fictional governments that are depicted in the novel; an equality-like communism government heavily based on the government set by the United Soviet Socialists Republic following the Russian Revolution in the 1910s, and a dictatorship-like government with equality intertwined, a little bit similar to the government of Germany during World War II. I technically can't give out much detail of the governments, because I can see already that I am so wrong about describing this and not spending enough time to research this. Criticism is accepted, and I am to be criticized as a dystopian blogger.

Say, can't I have a utopian world of my own? You may fall into the veil of true darkness I can set up, or fall into a world full of flowers and forestry, with so many teenagers wearing very summery and appropriate clothes, only to find out that being way too nice to others is a little of a threat. It may not fit in other cultures, but being too nice on others can become too suspicious, because you may be hiding what your real intention is.

Anyway, back to the discussion. Animal Farm was a novel that I read with my classmates in Secondary 5, where I was feeling so depressed about people not wanting to be socially engaged with me. I wanted to push myself so hard to get to talk to other people and hang out in places such as McDonalds for lunch, or play some outdoor soccer, because then I would not run into self-esteem problems, more mental health problems, and trouble with social withdraws.

There was so much detail into discussing the idea of dystopian fiction and the power to criticize a certain authority for interloping rights. The book can also be influential in some way that it deals with the rights of animals, as many different advocates around the world are there specifically for this purpose.

Essentially, the book is so powerful that it can not only make us understand the reality of governments that may impose a power like this, but also it may influence us to create many different criticisms to share with society around us to target the government for dislikes.

I am not so sure if this can also be classified as dystopian-based because what I want to show you does reflect on the history of the past, but I know one very serious satirical song that I cam across over two years back. It started out as a video recorded by Tom Lynskey as part of his course in learning German, but eventually I decided to watch the original music video that was released in 2001.

It's "Deutschland" by Die Prinzen, translated as The Princes, a music rock-based group from Germany. You can read the original German lyrics from here:
There is an English translation of this as well; I encourage you to explore more about this song online and by talking to your friends.

Back to dystopias, here's another literary writing I know of that I read. In Secondary 4, there was a short story I had to read in class where we had to start learning about equality rights, and so my teacher, Ms. Eva, gave us a chance to look at Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. It's a story set in a future egalitarian utopia where in order to achieve absolute equality, people were forced to have handicaps; specifically, weights, mind-controlled earmuffs, and even masks to hide out some special identities of an individual.

Essentially, the short story is a very emotional and powerful criticism to humanity's desire to absolute equality, although everywhere in the world may need it. But the reason why there is criticism is that, we have to limit ourselves from achieving absolute equality because it violates our own freedom and some of our rights. In particular, it's more of backstabbing of certain individuals around the world who are successful, and a given advantage of those who are struggling. But considering that those equality handicaps are a threat to our own identities, it's best that we avoid having them forced by the government, especially if there are some conspiracy theories around the world, or whenever we are doing activism.

We want to achieve equality in terms of payment and society perception, but we must not achieve absolute equality because then we will no longer have the freedom of speech in a very abstracted fashion, and we will no longer have certain rights.

Essentially, Harrison Bergeron is one of my favourite short stories because with a main character completely criticizing the government for mistreatment of the freedom of our own identities and thus saving a ballet dancer from the complete totalitarianism of the Handicapper General where a relationship is established before absolute control returns, it makes sense to avoid absolute equality at all times. Can we really have some freedom to ourselves?

Finally, one more novel I know of that I am yet to read myself and see just how bad totalitarianism really is, especially if we are to remember the 2011 Egyptian Revolution where President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down after a series of protests, as well as the United States' attempts to promote surveillance with reference to the book.

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU: George Orwell's 1984.

I don't know why, but I always get the feeling of being so invaded and distraught whenever I come across something like this. Maybe someone is watching me? Maybe someone is posing on me to follow what they say? And maybe someone is wanting to make an invasion? You know what, I'm getting mixed up because I am thinking that this should be a little bit applied to parental guidance on children. But we all know those are two totally different topics, and that it is completely awkward to talk about them.

Who else would have more control in this totalitarian world? Anyway, the thing about me having to avoid reading such an extraordinary novel is that it's not really easy for me to get the true meaning of a story like this. Whenever an abstract idea comes into mind, I would tend to relate to something that is not very realistic at all. Something like connected to the real world, another book, or even something where stories are shared. There's also the problem with trying to understand all of this complicated vocabulary and embedded meaning; it's definitely not easy for sometimes a computer enthusiast like me understand all of those many different ideas that are considered abstract.

So, with this out of the way, I think that will do for this blog. I hope this was something really fun for you to read, and that eventually, you would want to explore more dystopian worlds, possibly with satire and even different kinds of irony or sarcasm. I'll see you all later!

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