Author: Brian C. Mahon

Blank mind – you got to have a blank mind and no emotion out there. I do my thirty-second deep breathing routine, knock loose the naughty words from my cerebrum, and stare at the door latch. Is it worth it? A man needs to eat after all, but how badly?

At first, it was just an innocent inconvenience: advertising on all streaming services, sponsored ads on every website, targeted ads embedded between your friends and friends of friends’ posts. Next big thing after cell phones was to go buy those sweet, sweet Toniq glasses, with enhanced personal identity security features that seamlessly integrated all your social media divines through a single visual aperture! By the power of mixed reality, you could safely navigate outdoors while live-streaming with up to five different social media providers!

Not so bad, right? It came with a security guarantee and customer service standing by in case of a compromised account.

Then Toniq, which had all the exclusive contracts with the Big Five, got bought by an offshoot of the Big Five’s largest player, Community. Community did one even better and combined Toniq’s internet-capable mixed reality package with GPS and the TAF, their proprietary Total Anonymity Filter. Now you could see in real-time whatever *anyone in sight* posted, whatever they said transcribed to their preferred service, while the TAF kept their identity safe from non-friends. After Community bought the smallest of the Big Five, it managed to convince people, one Terms of Service retcon too many, that facial recognition was the next needed convenience. Broadcast moods on the fly, auto-login to store accounts to see available discounts at participating vendors the moment you walk by.

Now when Community teamed up with the currency app developers to “streamline shopping into a more enjoyable purchasing experience”? That’s when it really started to slide. Staring at any participating company’s product for three seconds adds that consumable to their cloud-side cache of your desires. Probably not so bad if you’re in the country, but in the city? Product prostitution.

It’s a short walk to the bodega. Keeping your head down to avoid the flood of bullshit thought bubbles from invading your inner peace is now a soul survival tactic. The social web’s got us all ready to be picked apart. If you’re watching anything but your shoes, life is a rushing shit stream of “bet he sits when he pees”, “there’s one less person the world needs”, “ima punch his ass out lol”, et cetera, et cetera. The TAF gave us humanity at its unfiltered, unpasteurized finest.

I’d love to think we’d have resisted this mess if we saw it for a tidal wave than a creeping tide. This constant exposure, the dissolution of privacy, of self, is too much for the mind to stay right. Too much for mine at least.

But seriously – keep a blank mind, no emotion, and keep yourself close to your chest. Isolation is a steady zen.