Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Luke Silver

Still-Agitated Deceased

            Mark Zuckerberg is having trouble sleeping at night. I know this because I haunt him and plan to ruin his enterprise tomorrow. I know this because although it might not be fair to blame him for my emotional descent and sudden death, he is a large contributor to the societal paradigm shift. What I mean to say is that I believe his company Facebook does not bring people together but tears them apart, that any relations maintained through the social media world lack substance, that to my dismay, scholarly studies keep popping up showing how children are eyeballing screens at seven-hour clips, growing up with less empathy, turning more and more into the robots that might soon rule the earth. (If you consider me a doomsayer you are mistaken. The automatons are projected to seize control in the year 2057. One learns such things in the afterlife.)

            When I disturb Mark and his wife Priscilla by rattling pans, by opening doors and setting off security-alarms, by agitating Beast so that he defecates in his doggy bed, by rocking little Maxima's crib just after they put her to sleep, I acknowledge that I am misappropriating blame. Mark Zuckerberg has no idea about the robot takeover—the quick flashes I get into the future show that CRISPR gene-editing has more to do with the extinction of our species. Nor is Facebook solely to blame for the dissolution of human emotion—other big social media companies such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc. also play a part. But Facebook is the Walmart of social media, the biggest and—in my case—the worst of its kind, the corporation who—I use who to give Facebook the personhood the law authorizes it—opened a gaping hole into which I fell in the year 2005 when I was merely a fifteen-year-old boy struggling to find social footing in a world that seemed to shift as fast as the hormones in my teenage body. Looking back at my life with a S.A.D. clarity withheld from the living, I can say with confidence that Facebook ruled me with insidious control from that day through the remainder of my earthly existence.

            But things will be made clearer if I elucidate the connection between Facebook and my designs for destruction, and in order to do this I need to backtrack to the late stage of my life before I moved back in with my parents at their home in Santa Monica, CA. At the time I was living in New York, failing to build a career for myself as a fiction writer. Over the course of my two-year residence, I shuffled around the city, slumming it in ramshackle places I found via Craigslist—in Fort Greene and Astoria, West Harlem and Wall Street. By day I'd sit in coffee shops and pen dark YA romance novels, fashioning characters who come of age in a dystopian waterless world. By night, I'd peddle delivery bags, maneuvering my bike over congested city streets deep into the night despite the temperamental climate—freezing in February, sweltering in August. When I hit a wall in my novel's development I'd decide to overcome my inertia with a change of scenery, and I'd move into a new 200 square-foot space, where I'd live out of my suitcase and sleep on a double mattress set up on the floor.

            After finally finishing my 450-page magnum opus in the spring of my second year, I celebrated. I bought myself an expensive bottle of Spanish Cava. I got drunk and went to a Yankee game and lost my voice in the bleachers when Mark Teixeira hit a walk-off homer. Thus when I returned to my manuscript after two weeks and saw that my work was akin to the piles of dog crap that balance like brown teepees on top of Manhattan mounds of sidewalk snow, I was broken, disillusioned with writing, ready to pack up and return home.

            It was during this insurmountable quarter-life crisis that I first discovered the Facebook application On This Day. The app was a vainglorious construction that unearthed long-forgotten activity that occurred on a Facebook profile on the same date in years prior. For example, if I logged into my Facebook account on February 7, the app would tell me the individual incidents that occurred on my Facebook profile on February 7 three years ago, five years ago, seven years ago. It reminded me of the momentous import Facebook had in my life. It consumed me and filled me with a daily sense of nostalgia. Instead of fretting about the fact that I was still struggling to pay off undergraduate student debts, I'd stay up at night remembering the ex-girlfriend who had posted an album of us taking a trip together to San Francisco in 2012. When I'd wake up the next day, I'd move onto new old memories, a 'get better' message from a friend after surgery in 2013, an inside-joke from a fellow linebacker on my high school football team left on my wall in 2007. Who are all these people now, I'd wonder. What are they doing in their lives? Thinking about them and how we'd drifted apart filled me with a strange sense of loss. How close we were once. How deep our roots went.  

            Desperate to leave behind the restrictions of school and urban grime that those born in New York strangely call 'energy' and 'spunk,' I doubled down on Facebook, developing a drug addict's dependence, used it as a crutch for my floundering life. For entire days I'd sit in the small square I called home with a cup of tea, perusing through a buried past by stalking the faces 'On This Day' had previously excavated. I envisioned reconnecting with all these old acquaintances upon my return to LA, picturing us huddled together sharing sentimental stories of our brazenfaced youth over draft beers at the smooth wood counter of a dark Venice bar.

            Thus when it finally became time to leave New York, I was brimming with false hope. While I should have been concerned about a jobless return to the egg-colored corner-room in my parents' house where I had once packed bowls in plastic water bottles before bed, I bought into the fictions Facebook told me of my meaningful friendships and my dignified life. The fact that after I touched down at LAX and turned on my phone and found my Facebook status—Moving Back to LA—had no comments and only one like did not deter me—I expected a subdued reaction—for there had been minimal contact between me and my childhood companions over the duration of my twenty-four-month relocation. From far too much fantasizing I had grown confident that the very same people I pined over had also spent countless hours on On This Day mourning the loss of our connection. In my mind it was only a matter of time before this relationship was resurrected and animated with a new life. (If it was possible for a living person to understand my story, they would learn that the idea of resurrection and the deceased entering a human corpse is nothing more than hogwash and Haitian folklore. The truth is that the spirit never absolutely dies—that it floats in the cosmos as a Still-Agitated Deceased—S.A.D.—until it finds peace, then donates its energy to the genesis of new life. There it is. I said it. That is the mystery of death.)

            In Los Angeles I waited for relations to naturally rekindle and tried to ease myself into my adjusted life. I joined a gym and a backgammon club to build a routine. I met many of my father's acquaintances for coffee to see if they knew of occupational vacancies. To my dismay, no one in a professional industry had any idea how to help a kid with a half-baked work of fiction, and the only thing that I improved over the course of that four-week carousel was the formatting of my resume and the firmness of my handshake. After the month of unsuccessful confabs, I backslid like a manual-transmission car stalled at a red light on a steep hill, shuffling about the house in depressed spirits, spending hours prone on the couch binge-watching reality television programs with my computer on my lap and my soiled socks pressed against the pillows.

            During these dark days it was Facebook that kept me going. I'd wake up in the bed where I had transitioned from diapers to pull-ups—and at an embarrassing late age—to boxers and log onto Facebook to seek out reassurances that I formerly had a vibrant life, that I once was at the nexus of a small Santa Monica social world, that because of the Facebook activity from that time period revived by On This Day I was still a person of some relevance. I pined for that person to reappear. I told myself that somewhere buried deep down he slept in hibernation.

            I desired to call my old friends, but I was certain they had seen my Facebook post and were aware I was in LA. I considered it overkill to prod any further.

            As eager as ever to begin the restoration of my great social fame, I started revisiting all the haunts of my youth in a cool, detached manner, hoping to pass one of my old comrades in the asphalt parking lot in which we had spent Friday evenings huddled around cars drinking small plastic Vodka bottles straight from brown paper bags. But they weren't there, nor were they at the delicious BBQ joint from which we used to talk in vulgar tones over plates of French fries. To my chagrin we had been replaced by the next wave of moody youth, boys in purple pants and tee-shirts with graphics that showed Selena Gomez snorting cocaine, girls with heavy eye make-up and low-cut tops sucking on cigarettes like recovering heroin addicts. While I sat alone ingesting a rack of ribs, I watched these kids—particularly the boys—terrorize their surroundings, squirting ketchup at a pretty classmate's open cleavage, acting with the arrogance of a group that believed that they owned the place. I felt half-disgusted; I laughed at their inability to see that at least some of them would turn out like me, flattened by responsibilities and the weight of society, looking back to the past to withstand the present.

            Watching those teens that night caused me distress on two fronts; because I saw how they reflected the superficiality of an era I wanted to resurrect, how I once was a self-indulgent bastard unaware of the years of real world worry and gloom that lay ahead. But what really killed me that night wasn't my ignorance; what really kept me tossing and sweating in the creaky bed in the corner-room of my parents' house was a small voice inside that I couldn't suppress, a voice that said 'you can't fool me. The reason you miss that bastard is because that bastard is you,' a voice that was fantasizing about saving Jenny Highschool from her ketchup-wielding acquaintances, and picking her up next week for a date, and driving her to the shade of an alley where I could cum on her stomach in the backseat of the car.

            (As an aside, I imagine that after tomorrow's event a whole bunch of new S.A.D.'s will spawn. To these disgruntled souls, know your corporeal death was in pursuit of a greater purpose.)

            When I rose bleary-eyed the next morning I had convinced myself that I was an animal, that Facebook merely stoked my narcissism, that the only way to overcome my odious desire for adoration and sex was to deactivate my Facebook account and start life over off the grid. But when I logged on and struggled to figure out the nuances of Facebook—where one clicks on the browser to unplug, why one has to endure a fourteen-day lull period before their account is actually deleted, why private messages and certain photos remain under Facebook's jurisdiction even after an account disappears—punching bed pillows in frustration, it became clear to me that by acting emotionally I was allowing Facebook to maintain control, that in order to truly make the prudent choice I needed to wait until I had possession of my faculties and then make a decision.

            I thus shuffled down the stairs and spent the rest of the morning lounging over the island in the kitchen alcove, slurping up peanut-flavored cereal puffs, hovering above a Junot Diaz novel. At about 1 o'clock in the afternoon my mom walked in with three bags of groceries rambling about being the bearer of good news.

            'You're going to be happy to hear this', she said, but I ignored her because Ana had just rejected Oscar and I felt deeply for that fat fuck. 'Paul', she said, 'did you hear me? Susan's son is starting a sports website and there's a job available for you.'

            Mhmm, I murmured, to soothe her scolding tone.

            It's paid.

            With that she got my attention, and I prompted her for specifics that she couldn't provide, which prompted me to log onto Facebook and begin a back and forth discussion with Susan's son George, a successful entrepreneur and Brown debate-captain—one of the booming early-career types whose successes I resented. The young shark told me that fledgling start-ups never pay-per-article, but he encouraged me to write as often as I could, because 'there was real money to be made in website traffic.' Write a story that goes viral, he messaged, and you might make over 1000 dollars. The way to do this, he suggested, is to get all over social media and self-advertise.

            From that point on Facebook became my alimentation, an appendage to my very being, a paramour to whom I composed love letters in the form of sports articles. She played hard-to-get with me, sometimes showering me with affection by providing likes and reposts, sometimes ignoring me altogether and drowning me in the flood of events and advertisements that make up a mini-feed.

            Despite her inconsistent attention, I penned at a relentless pace—authoring, formatting, and posting articles at a ten-a-day clip—about topics I wanted to discuss. I argued against domestic violence and head trauma in the NFL, pervasive white privilege in the media across professional sports, the corruption and exploitation of student-athletes by the NCAA. I felt liberated and took pride in the musings I spread into the invisible ether that streams words and codes over nearly every square-inch of the earth. Someone in Zambia is moved by your story, I told myself. You've caused someone to pause and think over in Shanghai.

            Thus at the end of the third week when George suggested I compose a picture-accompanied piece on the twenty-five sexiest cheerleaders in sports—assuring me it would bring in a great deal of internet traffic—I declined, telling him I wasn't interested in low-brow work. I was blissfully unaware of the fact that writing without pay is a recipe for disaster, that calling Facebook 'sweetie' and 'sexy' in soothing tones bordered on psychosis. Instead, I felt confident that when website hits were accumulated at the end of the month and I received my paycheck, the fruits of my labor would be compensated with multiple green, paper bills, ink-pressed with famous American faces. Furthermore, I saw an offer letter soon-arriving from The Undefeated or Vice, and a bright journalistic future ahead where I could bypass the bullshit reinforced by big-money and dive into the real issues related to sports.

            (As part of the S.A.D. experience, in addition to catching glimpses into the forecasted future, I am able to survey the past. I now know that when I attracted a reader, my articles were viewed for a paragraph, before fatigued brains switched to porn, or YouTube battle videos between pigeons and rats.)

            It was near the end of this month of incessant creation that I first heard from an old high school friend, Doug. Doug Facebook-messaged me and told me that my prose was sharp and steady, that he admired my insights, that he wanted to meet up after work and grab a drink. Despite my long-suffering attempts to rebuild social acclaim, I told Doug we'd have to postpone for the following week, that I was laden down by deadlines, that this close to the end of the month I had to self-impose the strictest discipline in my writerly job. But the reason for my delay with Doug was only a half-truth, because the heart of the matter was that I was angry with him, because he was my closest friend from our 2005-2009 social circle and hadn't left a single like or comment on my articles. I considered Doug's failure to recognize the importance of boosting my recognition in the world of social media indefensible. Driven to seek approval from external sources—Facebook has a dreadful way of stoking that habit—I imagined I was being judged by the world not only on the quality of my articles, but on the Facebook activity surrounding those articles. Popular people have their posts bushwhacked with comments and likes like a rude neighbor's house on Halloween, I told myself. You won't ever be anybody unless you are seen as a popular person.

            (From my meeting with other specters I have come to learn that I am not the only restless soul driven to lunacy by the domain of social media. Many of us exist. There is even a self-help club called SMA <Social Media Anonymous> that works to help the S.A.D. overcome their issues and find inner peace. But I refuse to attend the meetings. My therapy has been preparing for the impending upheaval by fiddling with Facebook's lightweight chassis, by subverting and trashing the company's ninety-server rack.)

            When the month of March finished, George told me it would take a few days to sort through all the article traffic, but that I could expect a check to soon arrive in the mail. Exhausted and over-caffeinated from my unsustainable pace, I deemed myself deserving of an evening break and contacted Doug to make good on our delayed gathering. He told me he had made previous arrangements to visit a local bar with college cohorts, but that I was welcome to come, and that I'd 'love these clowns.' Eager to not only see my old friend with whom I once smoked blunts during school breaks in a supermarket parking lot, but also to meet a bunch of other individuals who fit into my demographic audience and thus could increase my website traffic/Facebook activity and help me expand my brand, I agreed to show up at Axe—pronounced Ah-shay—at 8 PM on a Wednesday, for what Doug referred to as 'Midweek shenanigans.'

            Half an hour late due to a last-minute decision to post an article on the discrepancy in salaries between male and female coaches in collegiate sports, I arrived at the crowded basement bar and found Doug and his well-dressed friends seated in a side nook abreast a pile of untouched board games. Empty rocks glasses and beer mugs littered the long, liquor-slickened table, and salted peanuts were strewn about as if mauled by a toddler some moments before. I made my introductions and found a stool next to Doug, listened to the flow of conversation and signaled the waitress over to order myself a drink. For a while I sipped my whiskey and soda and they shared stories, guffawing over individual incidents of the everyday lunacy that occurs in a university setting. But eventually the conversation switched to sports and I began to chime in, giving my opinion on everything from soccer to snowboarding. 'You're dead wrong!' I'd shout, when someone would predict the Lakers would win the NBA Championship, and with a pundit's arrogance I'd explain why advanced metrics said it was the Celtics' year. At first, they found my outbursts amusing, my pursuit of a sportswriter's life engaging, and I felt a boozed-up camaraderie with this motley group of men. But after my third interjection, I started to sense an edge slice through the inebriated haze. When I voiced my opinion on a topic, they grumbled. When I raised a new issue, they turned to engage a nearby group of attractive girls. By the time we left relations were strained, and if it wasn't for Doug's playful punch on the arm and drunken pronouncement to the group that he and I had once tag-teamed a girl in a bedroom at a New Year's party with her boyfriend passed out on a couch downstairs—which changed the energy of the group back in my favor—I would have left straight away, and wouldn't have gone with them to the discotheque down the street, and indirectly would still be alive. (For the record, the idea of fate is nonsense. Death is a dice game—the product of chance.)

            The dance lounge Kawa was located at the corner of Main Street and Ocean Park, and we approached a thin line of people demarcated behind a red carpet rope barrier outside. While I advanced on the line, one of Doug's friends stumbled out to a street hawker holding a group of Pit bull puppies. The wasted instigator asked for the price of one, and despite a couple of muted protests from his more-sober ex-schoolmates, he shelled out fifty dollars and explained to the group that the puppy's cherubic expression would help him get laid. All of Doug's amigos roared in asinine amusement. I shook. I trembled. What cretins, I thought. What monsters.

            Almost immediately after, the girls that sat near us at Axe arrived, and upon seeing the puppy, they began to coo and fawn, to pick up the blue-eyed, bumbling canine and kiss the crown of its head, to cradle it and nuzzle its soft, wet nose against the warmth of their cheeks and necks.

            Unable to remain an accessory to the moral transgression for a moment longer, I stepped out with a shaking finger and fast-blinking, glassy eyes. 'This is a dog, not a toy, you Jackass!' I yelled. 'It needs training and immunization shots. Years of attention from a loyal owner.'

            Then I wheeled on the girls like a wild-man. 'For the love of God, don't screw a man who buys puppies to get laid.'

            The entire line looked at me with the unease of a female villager after a bloodthirsty rebel army sacks her shantytown. But in my loose liquored state their glances slid right off, and I bared my teeth to embody the maniac they seemed to see. Then I looked at Doug, but he looked across the street, so I spat on the ground and paraded off into the warm, early-spring Santa Monica darkness.

            (To any S.A.D.'s who might read this and regard me as some sort of murderous monster, remember a future without tomorrow's revolution will lead to a razed planet. Consider the future I envision, one where inhabitants interact with their world, sensing the joys and frustrations of strangers, sharing their excitement and ire.)

            I went to bed that night on an intense, self-righteous, ego trip. When I woke up the next morning the emotional high lingered, and I felt certain Karma would soon come around to reward my dignified stand. My satisfaction lasted only until I opened Facebook to self-market my April 3 article, and happened to glance at On This Day. The app displayed a picture of Doug and me shirtless and holding tropical drinks, surrounded by a bunch of blonde girls at a day-club in Cabo. The comments beside the picture ranged from 'couple of hotties' to 'look at these hurt mofos.'

            Immediately, I felt an indescribable shift, as if I had somehow been transported to another plane of existence entirely. In a strange, numb state of mind I scrolled back through my entire 842-picture history, starting at the mostly-solo, ponderous photographs from my innocuous, recent past, before ranging back through earlier, glassy-eyed, snapshots from raves and Vegas pools, fraternity events and high school house parties. As I watched the narrative of my Facebook life in reverse, I saw the painful frivolity of it all, how the cast of reoccurring characters—all still friends of Doug—seemed to depress me, how I was lost in in the present with nothing from the past to hang my hat on.

            At that moment I wanted to take two Advil to slow blood clotting and climb into the bathtub and slit my wrists in long horizontal strokes. But I didn't, because my self-awareness gave me pause, because it showed emotional growth, because a strange presentiment that I was building a life for myself as a sportswriter—a life that would transcend the mirage of Facebook—provided a glimmer of hope.

            Brimming with passion, I sat down that day and wrote a total of fifteen stories (the one about the injustice of taxpayer dollars funding private sports-stadiums still stirs my three-gram soul) before passing out at my desk well after midnight with my cheek pressed against the cedar wood varnish.

            Thus when I woke on April 4 and saw my March salary check waiting in a wicker basket in the foyer I took it as a sign of good fortune. Expecting to find something akin to a Willy Wonka golden ticket inside, I tore it open and found a check for $11.37. My first thought was that the decimal point had been misplaced. I raced to my computer and contacted George, alerting him that my check was 100X below minimum wage. 'George,' I typed, 'a grave mistake has been made.' When he assured me that my pay reflected the terms of our agreed contract, I displayed a Broadway-worthy range of emotional depth. I laughed like a madman with no regard for life. I raged across the house, opening and slamming doors and kitchen cupboards. I broke down and sobbed like a child while writhing prone on the wooden back porch. Finally, I sunk into a depression, a malaise so heavy that I spent the next three days watching Japanese cartoons while wearing sunglasses in the murk of the curtain-drawn house.

            While I slummed it in sweatpants, my parents tried to reign in my instability with encouraging clichés. 'Overcoming adversity is a good life lesson, Paul,' my mom said. 'One day you can write about this in a story.' My Dad took me on a walk. 'The twenties are the hardest decade in life. I'll never forget that pain.' I nodded and smiled but thought they didn't get it, thought the world had inexorably changed since they were my age. The Internet and cell phones had linked the globe with micro-chips. Mark Zuckerberg and his social media satellites had turned life into a popularity contest. It did no good to imagine an existence before trending topics and viral memes. The 21st century refused to look back. My hands were tied with the twine of 0's and 1's that make up binary code.

            I felt that death or a genesis in the jungle were my only escapes from Mark Zuckerberg's long and invisible dick, but that I wasn't nearly romantic enough for either extreme. Instead, I terminated my contract with George, and for my own sanity, vowed to take fourteen days away from Facebook. After one week I broke my own promise and logged onto Facebook to discover a six-day-old private message from Doug. The message informed me that Doug's friend Shane had recently learned his adopted, unnamed, Pit bull lacked all of its required shots. With a tone that I perceived as snarky, Doug said Shane wanted to offer me the dog. For a while I waffled, thinking how a new dog required a great deal of unsought responsibility, how a new dog couldn't match up to the memories created by my childhood Labrador, Joaquin. But something primitive kept me from typing no, and as I stewed over the subject I began to see my situation as an opportunity to give my life import. Without asking my parents for permission—who I knew would balk at the call to house an animal that would yelp at night and tear through furniture—I responded affirmatively to Doug, who put me in touch with Shane, who told me he had dropped the dog at an animal shelter three days prior. Picturing a shelter worker euthanizing tender puppies and dumping them into a landfill with a gravedigger's smile, I grabbed my mom's Saab keys from a small ceramic dish and raced out into a downpour before driving east toward the Downey address where I was told the dog was caged. Maneuvering through crawling cars over rain-slicked lanes on interstate highways, I saw my maturation into adulthood unfolding like a springtime flower. I saw how the pup would depend on me, how in order to care for it I'd need to demonstrate a selflessness that transcended Facebook's culture of narcissism. I was so wrapped up in thoughts of 'Sparky' supplanting the slough of a suspended life that I nearly overlooked all the approaching mile-markers for the I-105. Seeing the green exit sign coming hard and fast through the thrash of raindrops far to the right, I signaled and swung the wheel, sliding across three lanes of slippery bitumen before clipping a far-right lane truck that spun me back into the front bumper of an oncoming SUV. I suddenly hovered in the cloudburst, and watched as the Saab—crumpled like an empty aluminum soda can—spun toward the central divider while airbags deployed like a gloved punch into the motorist's nose and the blown-out driver-side window streamed glass shards into the side of his face. The sedan met the concrete divider head-on and made the sound of an entire cupboard of kitchen china breaking, and the driver's ragdoll body jolted forward and back in his seat, sending a smear of blood dripping down the airbag. Thin strands of smoke leaked up from under the hood and were drowned by drops of warm rain. I felt confused as to who he was and why I was watching.

            After ten minutes an ambulance arrived and the paramedics used the 'Jaws of Life' to remove the driver-side door. Then the news helicopters arrived after that, and they tried to film the excavation of the body, but the paramedics had covered it with a white tarp. I wanted to follow the ambulance but when I looked up a series of shimmering lights wobbled in the wet flurry. They littered the sky like a New Mexico night and, driven by a magnetism, I floated up to them.

            When I got close I saw the silvery outlines of people moving about. Some of them looked very old, some of them looked very weak, some of them had holes in their chest, or rope-burns around their neck. A young girl with a bald scalp glided out toward me.

            'C'mon,' she said, and I followed her to the Los Angeles River. She stopped above the water and with a delicate, veined hand, pointed down. Looking into my liquid reflection I saw the man from the car, a man with a flattened nose and purple circles all over his face and neck. When I smiled, he was missing teeth.

            'You're one of us now,' she said.

            'Who are we?' I said.

            'The S.A.D.. Still-Agitated Deceased. It's a purgatory for people who are unhappy when their life ends. I’m here because I died before a boy ever loved me. Because I never was kissed.'

            'How long ago was that?' I said.

            'Ten years. But I'm getting help. Soon I'll plug into the dawn of new life.' She stared at me proudly. 'What brings you here?'

            I thought about it for a minute. 'Mark Zuckerberg,' I said.

            She looked at me with big, blank, child-eyes. Then she grabbed my hand. 'Let me show you something.'

            It's hard to explain what happened next, but the path to multiple futures unfurled in front of us in images. In one distinct vision I saw how overpopulation, rising sea levels, and increasing income gaps would lead to wars among the poor, how the rich would stay above the fray until the robot takeover, how the world would continue on long after the extinction of humanity, generating new species until the sun burned out. In a second, less-defined trajectory, I saw sanitary cities where smiling people traversed the clouds in translucent bubbles between champagne-pink skyscrapers.

            'Wow,' I said.

            She batted her eyes. 'Just wait. Soon I'll show you what's going on in other galaxies.'

            That was three months ago. Every day since then I've disobeyed S.A.D.'s principal rule; noninterference with the natural world. Every day since then I've played with the limits of my powers, studying how to harness the mushrooming stream of trivial material permeating the cyber realm. Every day I've watched S.A.D.'s recover in group sessions and asked myself who wants to forgive if it means contributing to a condemned species? What can I do to ensure the alternate future? Every day I've been grooming myself for tomorrow.

            Tomorrow is Mark's birthday. Tomorrow at Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters the nine-acre green roof will spontaneously burn, and the project server will distribute an omnipotent multiplying virus to its members. Tomorrow the Internet will devolve into unintelligible jargon and people will commit suicide trying to save their virtual lives.

            Beyond that, I do not know. When I try to peer into a corrected future, I see many different outcomes, and I do not know which course civilization will take. I understand I might be accelerating human descent.

            But I have a faint hope.

            A hope that emotion exists for a reason, and anguish will drive people out from behind their blue-light bubbles. A hope that without the interminable assault of Facebook updates and trending topics, people will find the solace they need in each other. A hope that with time, condensed attention spans will focus on pressing societal issues. A hope that this S.A.D. will find a reason to return to a revitalized world.

            Sweet dreams, Mark Zuckerberg. I promise no interferences tonight.


Luke Silver lives in New York City and is an MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College. His fiction has most recently appeared in BOAAT PRESS, Neon, and Dogzplot. He is a freelance content contributor for Mindsight Media.