Encrypted Servitude

Author: Majoki

“You’re a peasant, a cyber peasant in the fiefdom of Facebook, of Meta. You’re a digital sharecropper for Google and Amazon and Apple, and you don’t even know it!”

The hooded man stood on the polished marble steps and shouted as a small crowd gathered. Alternately, the man turned and slapped bright yellow sticky notes on the tall sleek glass doors of the gleaming office tower in the heart of Wired Street.

“You’re being played. You’re being scammed. You’re being enslaved!

“Free apps, games, software. It sounds so good. So simple. So convenient. Like with easy credit and pay day loans, they get you hooked. They lavish you with eye candy and then suck, suck, suck you dry of your data, your identity.

“To Big Tech you’re not a citizen, you’re a datazen. Like in China, they’re tracking everyone online and in the streets with facial recognition software. Authoritarian regimes love the web, love the dependence of datazens on digital exchanges. You are so much easier to monitor, influence and control. If all your currency is digital, they can cut you off, squeeze you.”

He plastered more stickies, each a bullet point of heavy black text, on the door, and continued his harangue as the crowd grew.

“Understand what you are giving away. All your decisions, all your movements, all your interests. You’re letting Big Tech have it all. And for what? An indulgence? A promise of access? Of interconnectedness? Of celebrity?

“It’s criminal. You are being robbed. And yet you are the one being put in the debtor’s prison from which you can never work your way out—as long as Almighty Tech holds the keys. Even as we spread to new worlds looking for freedom and opportunity, you can’t escape it. Don’t worship and sacrifice yourself on the altar of Almighty Tech!”

The man pressed the last of his 95 sticky notes onto the doors just as building security came out. Many in the crowd were already posting pictures of the scene to their social feeds.

The man threw back his hoodie and bowed toward the crowd.

Some in the gathering throng gasped.

Others smiled.

On his broad bald red head, the man had a large QR code tattooed. More phones came out. In a flash, the scene was viral on the feeds.

As building security moved in, he shouted, “You can’t touch me. I’m interplanetary. I’m a Red. You don’t want to mess with Big Red.”

Building security messed with him anyhow.

Voices in the crowd shouted, “Who are you?”

Struggling as he was led away, the otherworld man called confidently out to the crowd, “Martian Luther.”

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