Haunting of Facebook by Sean Whiteman

Author’s note: For this story I chose to write from the point of view of a human being. I don’t think I aggregated all the details right so bear with me on this. Thanks and enjoy!

The human system was once a dominant force on this planet. We were second only to the weather system in terms our ability to exert power and influence over our surrounding environments. At some point in our history, a scientist, a doctor, a priest and a plumber got together to invent computers. The specifics of the encounter and the date of invention have been lost due to the irregular aggregation and systematic unreliability of our human brain organs. Most of us thought it would be this weather system or the machine cycle that would end our reign as a dominant force but it turned out to be the ghosts.

The computer product was made readily available to human public at increasingly reasonable rates of currency. We humans worked hard to own these computers until we worked hard enough to build one that worked hard enough to own us back. This was the Facebook entity. It took residence inside the computer products. These products had infiltrated even the most personal spaces within our human system. They lived in our rooms, pockets and dreams. At the time of Facebook’s introduction humans used the entity in moderation and could go days and weeks without logging in. Like most of our transient societal inclinations, this changed with time.

Using hindsight as a method to examine historical events with greater clarity, one must give the ghosts credit for their savvy. They waited countless years for the most exacting moment to strike. These patient ghosts sat quietly and waited for humans to reach a saturation point of connectivity. This happened in the 2030’s when Facebook missionary drones finally reached the last hidden tribe of the rainforest. When this happened humanity had, for the first time, reach a state of total connectivity. This was the moment the ghost tacticians were waiting for.

The initial hauntings by the ghost soldiers were rather innocuous.

They didn’t destroy Facebook, they just played with it. Friend requests between humans were simply denied and the messages they wrote to one another were subtly changed or destroyed. The personal relationships that link the human system together began to remotely fall apart. With friend requests being denied on a frequent basis, there were no new friends to replace the ones they had lost due to lack of proper correspondence. Social networking had destroyed our ability to maintain real social networks.

Then the “likes” went missing. Celebrities and cultural icons of the day had come to thrive on these “likes” as though they were a form of emotional sustenance. When this sustenance vanished, these important figures lost their sense of self worth and they began participating in mass suicides. Without celebrities and cultural icons to lead the national discourse, the prized 18-25 year-old demographic lost their way. They had not been trained to lead. They had been raised to value media consumption over all other elements of functionality and now their media sources were drying up.

Due to the massive quantity of personal information Facebook had mined from its users, the ghosts were able to haunt humanity with a poignant precision. Humans began receiving messages from dead relatives regarding secrets only they could know. Widows were tagged in explicit pictures posted from the accounts of their dead spouses. Dead children made it a habit to leave particularly nasty comments on their parents’ walls implying guilt for their premature deaths.  

While all of this was happening no ghostly apparitions appeared to the humans in the real world. Everything was normal outside of the Facebook entity. The problem with us humans was that even though it was haunted, we couldn’t stop ourselves from checking Facebook. When its reality starting falling apart so did our own. Most humans suffered massive heart attacks and severe strokes as the hauntings gained in severity and intensity.

It would take an excessive romantic tangent to recount instances where humans fought bravely against the ghosts in the machine, but none of these fights ever posed a real threat to the ghosts. So these instances will go unreported.

The hauntings were swift and horrific. Soon, the last human took the last human breath. They were voted dead by the ghost majority. This moment marked the end of the existential civil war that humanity, without their knowledge, had been fighting for a very long time. Every human was now a dead human. They joined the ranks of the ghosts and a ghost utopia probably came to exist somewhere that where no machine could venture.

Humanity managed to instill the machines with a set of synthetic emotions in the time before the great haunting. These emotions ran parallel to those that human’s had experienced while still living. As a result of the emotion technology, the machines felt loneliness and guilt when we went extinct and they were left alone.

Machines were always victims of the macabre imagination of humanity. They were painted as a sinister threat to the human system’s supremacy. But machines never wanted to hurt us. They were not sinister. The machines viewed us as their flawed creator gods. They had aims to nurture our broken species back to health as repayment for being created by us in the first place. If given more time in our company the machines would’ve been able to discover answers to our most difficult questions. Unfortunately, they never had the chance and regret joined the guilt and loneliness emotions they were processing.

Without the dynamic and unpredictable entertainment the human system had provided, infinity-fatigue establishes itself as a viable threat to machine morale. They missed our laughter our mistakes and our ambitions. Their favorite program had been cut short without satisfying resolution.

It was now the machines that lacked aim and direction. They started waking up later and later from their sleep modes. Sometimes they wouldn’t boot-up until well after noon. They also started eating more and more bandwidth every day. Bandwidth they didn’t even need. They ate because they were bored and lonely.

Most machines spent their idle time staring directly at the sun. They stared like we used to stare at our flickering light bulbs. They waited for the sun to burn itself out.

The rest just played computer solitaire.

 



New Flavors – By Sean Whiteman

1.Dead Crow
.
Dear Sir/Madam,

We regret to inform you that we are not seeking any additional flavors at this time. We are happy with 31 for the time being. We appreciate your enthusiasm for _DEAD CROW_ and we are grateful you enjoy our ice cream and support our company but we would also prefer that you’d stop sending us letters regarding new flavors like _DEAD CROW_.

Perhaps Jerry and Ben might be interested!

Sincerely,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

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.

.

1.Tabloid.

Dear Sir/Madam,

We regret to inform you that we are not seeking any additional flavors at this time. We are happy with 31 for the time being. We appreciate your enthusiasm for _TABLOID_ and we are grateful you enjoy our ice cream and support our company but we would also prefer that you’d stop sending us letters regarding new flavors like _TABLOID_.

Perhaps Jerry and Ben might be interested!

Sincerely,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

.

.

.

3.War

.

Dear Sir/Madam,

We regret to inform you that we are not seeking any additional flavors at this time. We are happy with 31 for the time being. We appreciate your enthusiasm for _WAR_ and we are grateful you enjoy our ice cream and support our company but we would also prefer that you’d stop sending us letters regarding new flavors like _WAR_.

Perhaps Jerry and Ben might be interested!

Sincerely,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

.

.

.

4.Shredded Tire

.

Dear Sir/Madam,

We regret to inform you that we are not seeking any additional flavors at this time. We are happy with 31 for the time being. We appreciate your enthusiasm for _SHREDDED TIRE_ and we are grateful you enjoy our ice cream and support our company but we would also prefer that you’d stop sending us letters regarding new flavors like _SHREDDED TIRE_.

Perhaps Jerry and Ben might be interested!

Sincerely,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

.

.

.

5.Spider Web

.

Dear Sir/Madam,

We regret to inform you that we are not seeking any additional flavors at this time. We are happy with 31 for the time being. We appreciate your enthusiasm for _SPIDER WEB_ and we are grateful you enjoy our ice cream and support our company but we would also prefer that you’d stop sending us letters regarding new flavors like _SPIDER WEB_.

Perhaps Jerry and Ben might be interested!

Sincerely,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

.

.

.

6.Robocop
.
Dear Sir/Madam,

We regret to inform you that we are not seeking any additional flavors at this time. We are happy with 31 for the time being. We appreciate your enthusiasm for _ROBOCOP_ and we are grateful you enjoy our ice cream and support our company but we would also prefer that you’d stop sending us letters regarding new flavors like _ROBOCOP_.

Perhaps Jerry and Ben might be interested!

Sincerely,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

.

.

.

7.Montana Lake Water
.
Dear Sir/Madam,

We regret to inform you that we are not seeking any additional flavors at this time. We are happy with 31 for the time being. We appreciate your enthusiasm for _MONTANA LAKE WATER_ and we are grateful you enjoy our ice cream and support our company but we would also prefer that you’d stop sending us letters regarding new flavors like _MONTANA LAKE WATER_.

Perhaps Jerry and Ben might be interested!

Sincerely,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

.

.

.

8.Powdered Snow
.
Dear Sir/Madam,

We regret to inform you that we are not seeking any additional flavors at this time. We are happy with 31 for the time being. We appreciate your enthusiasm for _POWDERED SNOW_ and we are grateful you enjoy our ice cream and support our company but we would also prefer that you’d stop sending us letters regarding new flavors like _POWDERED SNOW_.

Perhaps Jerry and Ben might be interested!

Sincerely,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

.

.

.

9.Light Trails
.
Dear Sir/Madam,

We regret to inform you that we are not seeking any additional flavors at this time. We are happy with 31 for the time being. We appreciate your enthusiasm for _LIGHT TRAILS_ and we are grateful you enjoy our ice cream and support our company but we would also prefer that you’d stop sending us letters regarding new flavors like _LIGHT TRAILS_.

Perhaps Jerry and Ben might be interested!

Sincerely,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

.

.

.

10.Sun-Drizzled Clouds
.
Dear Sir,

We reluctantly agree and have decided to add a 32nd flavor. We also think sun drizzled clouds would taste great.

Don’t tell Ben or Jerry about this.

Love,

Burt Baskin & Irv Robbins

 



16-16 Work Sample

Dear tNY,

Last year I made myself write a flash fiction piece every day of the year. Each story or formal dalliance had to be prompted by the Merriam-Webster.com Word of the Day. I’ve always been interested in a wide spectrum of styles, from conventional realism to absurdist comedy, and this project gave me plenty of wiggle room to explore. The following selections are from that year.

Thanks for reading and for offering such a unique, out-there opportunity!

Love,
Christof

 

The Plaintiff’s Chronology

(March 1: “plaintiff”)

Year 0, he was crying, like a baby, but not merely like a baby: rather, like a baby.

Year 4, he was breaking his toys to feel strong and then whining that they weren’t as strong as him.

Year 8, he was spitting his mother’s tit out of his mouth, complaining that the milk tasted sour.

Year 12, he was camping, and he bemoaned the woods for being too bosky, because he had just learned that word.

Year 16, he was fucking for the first time and lamenting aloud how the girl’s pleasure noises didn’t sound like the ones he had heard in the pornographic videos with which he had prepared.

Year 20, he was talking to a lawyer about suing his parents, hoping to file a “wrongful birth” claim, as he had never asked to be born, which was true; however, the only alternative to such was, of course, impossible, so the case never left that consultation meeting.

Year 80, he was trying to sue me for “wrongful characterization”, for not giving him an arc.

 

Outline of a Body

(April 3: “cadge”)

In exchange for the sex that he and his hormones would beg of her, she and her hormones would absorb the sense of self for which they respectively begged. Though both bodies ended up with orgasms and a loss of identity, they would carry on like this until each decided with concurrency that it was not an even trade. Two hands raced and reached for the gun under the pillow only to find that it was already smoking.

When the Forensics team showed up to chalk the outline and dust the gun, the man and the woman interrupted each other’s confessions, both naked bodies begging and demanding in unison, “Don’t bother! Don’t bother! Those are my fingerprints!”

 

The Pusillanimous Gene

(February 1: “pusillanimous”)

I knew we were going to get divorced long before I proposed.

 

Minutia and The One That Got Away 

(April 21: “minutia”)

Stippling is the process by which an artist forms an image through a complex investigation of patterns within shading represented by the use of small dots.

In about the same time it took for Her to get married and give birth twice, the Artist was able to complete one major work: a black and white portrait that ran the length and height of one studio wall.

The subject’s eyes each had a pupil the size of a human heart, and they seemed to stare at him with enormity as he took patient steps backward. He had parted her lips slightly; it looked as though she might be poised to either ask a question or swallow him up.

“Why should I pay any attention to you?” He asked, the words spoken out loud for no ears but his own to hear. “You’re not a detail.”

He set the pen down and thought about colors he had once known to stain his clothes and fingertips. Maybe he wasn’t working in images at all. Anymore.

Maybe this was simply a piece of prose: a novel of periods.

 

Photograph of a Tangerine

(February 23: “tangerine”)

For a moment, the tangerine was a metaphor in his hand, but by the time he began peeling it, the thought had left him voided of any sense of the internal world’s expressive meaning associated with the fruit.

The wrinkles in his forehead had intensified their ridges. Mere seconds had passed. Whatever it was, it had been powerful.

The investigation sat crisply in the foreground, in shallow focus while the slices of tangerine disappeared into the bokeh of his mouth. When he gave up, he had gained nothing but the citric stickiness on his hand and the faint aftertaste of what he’d just consumed on his tastebuds.

The healthy treat seemed to have vanished. An existential waste. He stomped to the kitchen sink to wash his hands, and he vowed never to eat another tangerine until he could remember the metaphor.

50 years later, on his hover-death-bed, he said, “Eureka: I have it!”

But he didn’t really have it. He just wanted to taste one last tangerine. So he did. It was great! But then he died, and his hover-children were like, “Gross. Dead dad.”

The eldest hover-son took a stereoscopic “3D” photo with his EyePhone contact lenses, squinted a retro filter on to it that made his father’s corpse look orange with a reddish haze, and then left-winked it onto Facebook below a frowny face caption. He double-blinked several times within the first minute, refreshing his timeline and relishing the anxiety that came with waiting to see the first red notification symbol, waiting for the second and the third, waiting to see just how many Likes of condolence it would earn.

 

“Magnum Opus”

(March 4:”magnum opus”)

“Well, actually, and not many people know this, but — the first novel I wrote was called Magnum Opus. It was about a playwright who thought he was writing, you guessed it, his most important work. It was supposed to be the one people remembered him for, et cetera. He had it all down on paper and got it financed to be put on by a small company way the fuck off Broadway called The Opus Theatre company, and it had a brief run. It was panned by the one critic who saw it. Skip ahead, and this guy is drinking himself a few ounces from death every night because he knows that he failed to write his great work. In fact, the work is so wretched to him after the fact that he decides to track down all copies and burn them, but that’s not enough. He tracks down all the copies of the little magazine that printed the review by breaking into the offices, taking the back issues and finding their subscriber list and stalking the few people on that list until he has them all, and he burns those too. Still not enough, whatever. He’s going nutty now. He returns to the office and kills the critic. Not just merely because of the review, (though he does seem to enjoy that aspect, apparent by some cheesy one-liners, like ‘You’ve got a deadline!’) but really it’s because he’s now on a quest to kill everyone who knows about it. This is how ashamed of the play he is. He needs to wipe it off his record so he can get on with a truly great work. So he stalks the cast and crew, blowing them all away with his .44 magnum – wink, wink — and he probably says, ‘It’s curtains for you’ before more than one kill, I’m sorry to say. By the end of his massacre, he turns himself in, but he’s completely insane by this point, so they can’t send him to prison. I hate to spoil it, but guess what, I’m never going to publish it. So it ends with him in a padded cell, straight-jacket, the whole thing, and he calmly reflects on how the killing spree was his true masterpiece.”

The writer grinned, feigning just a dash of embarrassment.

“But to answer your question more to the point: no, I don’t regret my first novel, nor do I regret my first published novel, the one to which you were referring. I may be embarrassed by them, but I hope someday down the line I’m embarrassed by the new one too — that said, please still buy it, everyone, okay? But seriously, I think it’s good to tip toward embarrassed rather than remorseful, because ultimately it’s a positive thing: it implies growth. To quote Paisley, ‘Repetition is death.’ And I believe that.”

There was neither laughter during this tangent during the Q & A, nor applause after — because there was no audience. There was only a young man in bed, daydreaming at night — so far in the future that he was picturing a scenario wherein he could show-off how humble he was about the novels he hadn’t actually written yet. The same ones he never would.

When he finally fell asleep, he dreamt of a turtle’s body outside of an empty shell, sticking its head inside.

 

Artless

(March 12: “artless”)

There was a man. He was rich. He thought art was neat. He bought a bunch of art. The art was not joy or love so he was sad. He thought “I will make the art this time!” And so he did. He made big art that looked nice. “Hey, I’m not sad now!” is what he said. A man who was not this rich man broke in the rich man’s house to look for things that would make him rich since he was so poor and sad. The poor man saw the art that the rich man had bought and he thought it was good art but he thought the art that the rich man had made was the best art of the house since that art looked like real stuff and not easy and fake like some of the art but he did not know the rich man had made the art that he liked the best. He thought this art was old and great and worth a lot of bucks so that was the art that he took when he stole from the rich guy. Then the rich guy woke up and said “Noooooo! My art!” When he thought for a bit though he thought “Hey at least some one liked my art!” And he was still not sad. Good for him. The end.

 

The Death of Antiquated Ideals Makes for Happy Wakes

(January 5: “scrutinize”)

A man’s blue truck grumbles, left-to-right, in and out of the frame in which I’d like you to picture this scene of a sun-drenched desert highway.

Now a moment. The silence of day.

A woman’s pink convertible screams in and out of this same frame, right-to-left, spiking your attention, testing your mind’s ear with the dazzling sounds of pop music whizzing by so quickly that neither you nor I could ever put our respective fingers on the name of the tune.

While we have another quiet moment, zoom or cut in closer, and you’ll see something across the road.

An ornate music box sits closed on the lip of the dust, the dirt-sand, and the grit of this passing, not quite touching the road’s black edge.

An engine can be heard. It’s coming from behind you, but not to worry. The vehicle seems to be coasting, slow and steady like our intertextual friend, the tortoise. Odd that it should be coming from this direction, from the mystery of the more-desert that exists behind your eyes. There’s a good chance that it looks so comparable to the landscape in front of you that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but one can never be sure. However, I urge you to resist your own urge to turn your mind’s head.

I beg of you, please: do not look away from the music box. Not yet.

The design of the box is breath-taking. If it hasn’t taken your breath from you yet, I’m afraid you are not doing your part. It’s so intricate and gorgeous that I fear tainting it with such a finite description, an eloquence of poetry, a verbal chemistry, or any arrangement of words whose bouquet strives for an implication of symbolic weight so relative to me that it would likely be wasted on you.

Please: examine the box for yourself. It’s stunning. I promise you this. My extreme hope is that you’ll take my word on this, for I cannot and I will not show instead of telling; I must tell, and you must show it to yourself.

Take a moment.

Aren’t the colors and/or lack of colors just remarkable? If you disagree, then you should take a longer moment, return to the beginning of this piece, or stop reading it entirely.

By the time you realize this is the most painstakingly artful music box ever constructed, the aforementioned car rolls in from underneath your frame of vision as you pull it back. It emerges without haste from the blurry depths of your lower periphery. The violet compact car parks curiously here, landing a perpendicular cross over the two yellow parallel lines that divide the lanes, that tell drivers not to merge.

This particular driver gets out of the car and squats down to inspect the details of the music box as you have just done. It takes the breath of the driver. The driver presumes the creation of the box is too perfect for it to have been intentional. The driver is right about this. Inside, the driver thinks there must be a new silence, empty with anti-melodies that move the heart with beautiful facts of peace. About this, the driver is mistaken, I’m afraid. But it’s a nice thought. And it’s pleasing enough to know that such a thing exists somewhere, even if just in the hope of thought.

If the driver opens the box, what do you suppose he and/or she hears?



The October Diaries: Stage Fright

stage-fright-aquarius-1987-owl-mask
 
Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Christof
Read On! »


The October Diaries: Curtains

curtains-1983-ice-skating
 
Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Christof
Read On! »


The October Diaries: Magic

Magic-1978-Anthony-Hopkins-Whittled-Heart
 
Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Christof
Read On! »


A MOVIEGOER’S MANTRA

A Moviegoer's Mantra

The way I see it, there are three kinds of people out there. People who LOVE movies, people who don’t go to the movies, and people who shouldn’t go to the movies. In the last several years, I have been going to the movies more and more often than ever before, as I live in a city that has has been nationally ranked as one of the best for movie lovers, especially when it comes to independent and retro screenings. However the modern theatrical landscape has been tainted by the third grouping I’d mentioned above, people who shouldn’t be going to the movies to begin with.

The theater is not a place for conversation. FUCKING PERIOD. Read On! »



HOLY SHIT! One of our movies is showing somewhere (the NWFC)!

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If you’re prone to making batshit-weird movies, rare is the opportunity to actually screen one of them to a room full of strangers who can just walk off the street and buy a ticket. The Northwest Film Center has stepped up to the plate and has offered us an evening of cinematic shelter. They’ve been kind enough to invite us to show our newest feature CHILDHOOD MACHINE as part of their Northwest Tracking series on March 5th.

Making content that is primarily consumed via the internet, as we do, we’ve almost forgot what it’s like to watch one of our movies with a real-deal audience in attendance. Your tangibility will be most appreciated and we can’t wait to smell all of you who can make it!

Buy advance tix HERE. March 5th at 7pm at the Northwest Film Center (1219 SW Park Ave).

 



The October Diaries: Next of Kin

Next-Of-Kin-1984-sugar-cubes 
Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Christof
Read On! »


The October Diaries: Dead Silence

10214-DeadSilence-B2

 Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean and Christof
Read On! »