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Only Happy Thoughts

A very modern dystopia – Doomsday Diary Challenge

By Folklore FuturesPublished 3 years ago Updated 2 years ago 4 min read

When the product launched, everyone just took it for yet another cutesy gadget craze from Japan or maybe South Korea.

Who else would come up with a heart-shaped light-up locket that monitors your biometric response as you explore the never-ending scroll, then automatically selects an emoticon that best represents your comment-reaction to any social post you happen to dwell upon.

With hartfelt™ there was no need to trouble your already overtaxed cognitive neocortex with figuring out which of the too-many emoticon options to put. Or get stuck boringly repeating yourself with the same one. No need to even bother clicking a button. Not when it was so much simpler to bypass all that tiresome executive thinking and instead tap into the more authentic low path limbic system response.

It all seemed innocent enough. At first. And convenient. Personally I liked the animated sparkles. And how smooth the app functioned. Probably never catch on that big here though.

We were so wrong.

It turned out that the company behind the auto-emoticon locket was actually based down under in New South Wales, with initial runs of the original light-up red model manufactured using remote factory workers in the former EU and shipped global.

An Austin-based hedge fund then recognised the product’s potential for a new kind of data collection and facilitated the necessary R&D and PR to widen its WEIRD market appeal, resulting in the release of several and increasingly powerful sealed unit versions each autumn to much fanfare.

Both budget plastic and the more advanced metallic models could be purchased in a variety of design shells, greatly expanding the opportunity for individual self-expression so key in modern neuromarketed sales.

Take up was phenomenal.

Aided in no small part by targeted sponsorship of some of the planet’s top-trending influencers and paid-for advertising on the five big socials that controlled the Wide Web World. But not even the stock market pundits that eagerly tipped the fledging company as a rising star could fathom the rapid level of their success so far.

I guess some products just click. Then snowball.

Naturally the big five were keen to own the device for themselves. Especially as their data dredging research had revealed a rather startling piece of info. Almost none of those posting positive auto-emoticon responses via hartfelt™ ever went on to flame or troll.

This was colossal news.

The big five had already committed algorithms, bots, and vast teams of human investigators to try and stop their popular platforms from being used for bullying, hate-crimes, and abuse. Not so much because they wanted to. But because campaigning politicians, the Media, and libertarian privacy advocates were on their backs. Plus it span as a great grand virtue signal with which to poach woke users from any rival networks.

But the incessantly addictive interactive beast they had unleashed had grown too immense to control.

Clean up your act or face a new global super-tax, they were told. As if governments were still the ones that ruled. Then the Media would regularly crank up the volume, causing ruffled shareholders to demand action or forfeit their support. A more effective solution was called for.

And this cute little light-up locket looked like just the job.

With the hartfelt™ locket monitoring all subconscious emotional user-response, the big five realised they could create a brave new wholesome service bereft of all jealously, ill will, and hurt. One without negative comments or posts. One where even a single biometrically read bad thought could suspend your account. And multiple would see you permanently shut out. It wouldn't matter if you hadn’t actually gotten around to yet typing them down.

A major bidding war followed.

I can’t remember now who won, because in the fallout there were a ton of takeovers and mergers between the competing socials. Five became three. All owned by one.

And all using the hartfelt™ locket as a prerequisite to log-on.

Tin-foil hats protested about EMF health concerns. There was much anti-freedom political talk. Alternative open-source networks were launched. Hacktivists made a last ditch attempt to hold the remaining three mega-socials’ parent company URL hostage until their decision was reversed.

But in the end the people just couldn't not.

I mean, what sort of life would it be without their needy humblebragged sharing of purchases, sunsets, trips, and meals? Or airbrushed selfies? Or performative allyship? Or regurgitated LOLcat, challenge, you-won’t-believe-what-happened-next, how-to, or did-you-see posts? Or all those pseudo-philosophical quack meme quotes?

Anyway, negative thinking is like really bad for you and can deplete your immune system and cause cancer and all sorts of other modern disease.

It was then only a question of time before all other sites adopted it.

Maybe that might have been OK as far as it went. Because there was after all still a real world out there for people to occasionally frequent. But successive waves of deadlier coronavirus variants that evaded the best efforts of the vaccine scientists to prevent had for several years kept everyone locked down and in and meant that all retail, business, employment, and societal interaction was now conducted via the web.

Pretty soon even accessing an IP required wearing the locket to prove you were entering the virtual domain with a smiley face happy and prayer hands peaceful intent.

Then all negative emoticons were outlawed. Then all negative words. Not that anyone was using them anymore. But it looked good for the politicians’ remote screen-selves to stand up in Parliament and be seen to be doing something of course.

Everyone was embarrassed smiley face glad – the Wild West web had finally been civilised.

Throughout history the expectation had always been the same. That the apocalypse, when it came, would be some kind of big atomic unzipping between nations, quasi-religious reckoning, or an enviro-techno fail on a grand scale. But it wasn't like that at all.

We'd barely registered its arrival.

It hadn’t happened to us. We’d done it to ourselves. And we all only ever think happy thoughts now. ☺

Sci Fi

About the Creator

Folklore Futures

Travelling back via the psychosphere that connects all sentient beings throughout space-time, come warning stories from the myriad dimensions as yet unborn...

Brought to you from the keyboard of David Valentine

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