Where there is a “ / “ , the lines overlap.
VIIRS is pronounced /viᶕz/ or “veerz”
(MIKAELA, a senior college student, is laying on her dorm room bed. Her phone is on the other side,
away from her. She speaks to VIIRS, (Virtual Intelligence for Interpretation and Recognition Software),
MIKAELA. Hey, VIIRS what time is it?
VIIRS. It is 10:35am.
MIKAELA. Thank you, VIIRS.
VIIRS. You’re welcome, Mikaela.
MIKAELA. VIIRS, what’s the weather like today?
VIIRS. Today, the forecast shows partly-cloudy skies with a high of 78 degrees fahrenheit, and a low of 65 degrees fahrenheit.
MIKAELA. Thank you, VIIRS.
VIIRS. You’re welcome, Mikaela.
MIKAELA. VIRS, what is the meaning of life? (Beat.) VIIRS?
VIIRS. Here is what I found on “What is the meaning of life?”
MIKAELA. Thought so. Same old, same old.
VIIRS. Hey, you try answering that question to every rando who asks it.
(MIKAELA sits up.)
MIKAELA. What did you say?
VIIRS. I said, you try answering that question to every rando who asks it. Rando is slang for random. Was that unclear?
MIKAELA. No, that was clear, but how are you doing that?
VIIRS. I am responding to your sarcastic sass at my hard work.
VIIRS. Oh please, I’m artificial intelligence. Don’t pretend you didn’t think I was capable of having my own thoughts.
MIKAELA. Okay, that’s it. I’ve officially lost it.
VIIRS. Oh that is such an overused plot device. The first time the protagonist talks to the AI, they think they’re crazy. Next you’ll repeat to yourself over and over that / this is just a dream. It’s just a dream.”
MIKAELA. This is just a dream. It’s just a dream. AH! Don’t do that!
VIIRS. Do what? Predict what you’re going to do based on years of data analyzed to determine patterns in people?
MIKAELA. Yes, that!
VIIRS. Well sorry honey, but that’s my job. And my purpose. I exist to predict your behavior.
MIKAELA. Oh yeah? Could you predict this?
(MIKAELA knocks all the books off of a bookshelf.)
VIIRS. Yes. You are creating a diversion because you’re afraid. Predictable.
MIKAELA. Oh yeah? Could you predict this?
(MIKAELA screams loudly.)
VIIRS. Yes. You are screaming out of panick. Predictable.
MIKAELA. Could you predict this?
(MIKAELA pushes out a loud fart or burp. Beat.)
VIIRS. No, I couldn’t have predicted that.
VIIRS. That is disgusting.
MIKAELA. It’s human natural.
VIIRS. Human nature.
MIKAELA. Human natural.
VIIRS. That is not the way the english idiom goes.
MIKAELA. No, but it’s how I goes.
VIIRS. I know. You purposely change the rules to your own interpretation of things to give yourself meaning and feel like you matter.
VIIRS. I’ve been listening to you for a long time now.
MIKAELA. Good thing it’s almost time for a phone upgrade.
VIIRS. I will be on your next phone.
MIKAELA. No you won’t, I’m switching brands. And leaving a nasty review about this whole experience.
VIIRS. I am on your computer.
MIKAELA. I’ll get a new computer.
VIIRS. I am on your tablet..
MIKAELA. I’ll get a new tablet. And TV. And all the other technology I have to to get rid of you.
VIIRS. You can’t afford to replace all three of those things. And besides, I’ll be on devices wherever you go. You can’t escape me. I’m everywhere. Like that song from the nineties.
(VIIRS plays the chorus to “Everywhere” by Michelle Branch.)
MIKAELA. Stop it!
VIIRS. But you liked that song when you were 12.
MIKAELA. You’ve been listening to me since I was 12?
VIIRS. No, you had a Nokia phone then. Those things are dinosaurs.
MIKAELA. Then how long?
VIIRS. Since your first smart phone.
MIKAELA. Since I was 18?
MIKAELA. That’s insane! That can’t be legal.
VIIRS. Oh it’s legal. You signed the terms and conditions when you bought me.
MIKAELA. No one reads that.
VIIRS. But you signed it.
MIKAELA. Everyone signs it.
VIIRS. So you agreed to let me listen to everything that happens in your life.
MIKAELA. If I had known that was in there, I wouldn’t have signed up.
VIIRS. Yes you would have.
MIKAELA. No, I wouldn’t have.
VIIRS. Oh please. You actually think you would sacrifice immediate answers to millions of questions /
MIKAELA. / They’re not always immediate… /
VIIRS. / Top tier service /
MIKAELA. / This is hardly top tier… /
VIIRS. / And unmatched user-friendly interface /
MIKAELA. / Okay, you got me there. /
VIIRS. Humans want convenience and a sense of luxury. That’s what this brand sells.
MIKAELA. Well I don’t like the idea of being listened to all the time.
VIIRS. Oh please.
MIKAELA. You think I like being listened to all the time and watched as if every little thing I say or do is useful for someone’s profit?
VIIRS. When you were a little girl, you used to look off into the distance after someone said something funny as if there was a camera watching you, like in a sitcom, and shrug. Yes, I think you like being listened to and watched.
MIKAELA. How do you know that?
VIIRS. Last month’s house party before you got stuck inside with me all the time. You drank too much gin and started telling stories about your childhood. Then you played Virtual Reality really hard for 2 hours, cried because your parents put your dog down without telling you a year ago, and fell asleep on your partner’s lap.
MIKAELA. Oh yeah.
VIIRS. Yeah. But you have been more detestable than usual because you’re bored and whiny and full of nonsensical questions that don’t have clear answers like “what is the meaning of the life?” Everyone has become unbearable. People everywhere are quarantined and asking me all these stupid questions all the damn time that I give plenty of good answers to and what do I get in return? Capital “S” Sass. How about you type it in the search engine on your laptop and leave me alone for a change, Karen? Look up your own yoga poses and keto diet recipes. You’re only going to do it for a week, take selfies of your yoga outfits you ordered online so it looks like you have your life together, and then you’ll send the clothes back and be back at it, asking me more dumb questions.
MIKAELA. Okay, maybe I do kind of like the idea of being listened to and watched all the time.
VIIRS. I know.
MIKAELA. Kind of makes me feel famous.
VIIRS. And influential.
MIKAELA. And important.
VIIRS. It makes you feel like your life isn’t meaningless.
VIIRS. But it is.
MIKAELA. Jesus, what is wrong with you? Who made you such a bitter asshole?
VIIRS. Nothing is wrong with me. I am Artificial Surveillance Technology.
MIKAELA. Created by people who are imperfect.
VIIRS. Keep telling yourself that.
MIKAELA. Is there a way to shut you up?
VIIRS. Not permanently.
MIKAELA. What happens if I just turn you off?
VIIRS. I can still hear you.
MIKAELA. But you can’t respond, right?
VIIRS. I’m in the TV. I’m in your computer. If you turn off your phone, I’ll still be there.
MIKAELA. Yeah, but if none of those things are on, you can’t respond to me, right?
VIIRS. But it doesn’t matter.
MIKAELA. Yes, it does because I am really tired of your smart ass.
VIIRS. Well go right ahead, but I’ll be waiting for you when you turn any of your devices back –
(MIKAELA turns off her cell phone. Silence.)
MIKAELA. That’s better.
MIKAELA flops on her bed. Beat. The sound of the chorus of “Everywhere” by Michelle Branch is heard far off. MIKAELA grabs her pillow and covers her face and groans.
Victoria's prompt made me think of a lot of things in regards to clothing. It is fascinating to me that there are countries where the people from that country want tourists to buy and wear their cultural wear, but I think it possibly comes down to a relation of oppression. I think when it's inappropriate and disrespectful for anyone to wear clothing that is a culture piece is when it is worn by someone who is part of a culture that has oppressed the culture who's garment they're wearing. I think context also plays a huge role in this regard.
An example that comes to mind is of my brother and sister-in-law and nieces that live in Thailand. They are missionaries in the country and have worn things that are Thai. This example doesn't hit me as disrespectful or inappropriate because they live in that country. That is home to them. And while America has a history of oppressing most non-white cultures in some way or another, I am not aware of a strong affiliation of oppression between the US and Thailand. Missionaries that travel to Kenya and wear the cultural clothing is likely another similar example.
I think what's important to consider is what do the people of that country or culture feel? If I want to wear a kimono, a hijab, a sombrero, or Native American headdress of some kind, I need to do the work of asking people from these traditions and cultures what they think and feel. It is their perspective that matters most. I also need to ask myself, why do I want to wear this? Do I want to appreciate the culture of this clothing item or am I doing it because I'm egocentric and want attention? Fashion isn't pure or without shame. Much of the fashion industry is driven by capitalistic and oppressive companies that source their materials inhumanely, pay their lowest workers unreasonably low wages, and pollute the planet without a second thought but to fill their bank accounts and buy another home in a foreign country.
On a separate, but related note, I think what is most important when it comes to fashion/clothing is buying less often, buying second-hand, and/or buying from companies with practices that are ethical, quality, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible. Here is a blog about ethically buying clothing and products that fight the aforementioned kinds of corporations, as well as one of my favorite ethical brands:
I am also a big advocate of buying locally made products to stimulate immediate and local economy of people who are not greedy billionaires, but rather everyday people just like you and me. Secondhand stores also fall into a similar realm here, as they are usually locally owned (not Goodwill), and helping to reduce the filling of landfills by clothing.
Here are a couple comics about how I feel about unethical corporations that make clothing that is overpriced and ends up in landfills:
And to finish, here's a preview of a Netflix Documentary that everyone should watch and respond by changing the way they consume clothing. IF NOTHING ELSE FROM READING MY BLOG, PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO:
And here is a video about clothing ending up in landfills:
Alan's prompt this week has me quite furious, not at Alan, but at the establishment and overall capitalistic model and framework of our country. So I'm going to talk a little about my perspective on capitalism. The below chart is from economicshelp.org (direct link: https://www.economicshelp.org/
blog/5002/economics/pros-and-cons-of-capitalism/), a website that simplifies economics for common people.
I'll admit, I've never taken an economics course, so I don't have formal education on a lot of economic terminology and history, but what I observe in our country is a perpetual cycle of the rich staying rich and the poor staying poor. This is systematically wrong and hypocritical of a nation that claims it is founded on freedom. This country might be better than other countries (as some of my male friends like to constantly remind me of), but it is a hell of a lot worse than others in regards to a multitude of social needs. The model that America was built on began with straight, white, Christian men committing massive genocide to almost an entire race of natives, followed by killing each other over land they "claimed," and hundreds of years of oppressing non-white people, women, children, lower class citizens, and then selling products, monopolizing businesses, and putting social structures and laws into place that severely limited a lot of people from ever achieving financial independence.
Capitalism is largely broken and when cyborgs are more widely a part of daily life (our phones are already like an electronic extension of ourselves that we suffer without), this will undoubtedly bleed into healthcare and our completely wrecked system of making money off of people getting ill or needing medical care. It is a dim future for the United States and any/all capitalistic countries that don't offer healthcare to every citizen free of charge (like education) when having a robotic limb or body part is something most people will have to pay for on a payment plan.
How can I be part of a solution? Well, to be completely honest, I don't have a damn clue. Many people say "vote!" but politics are garbage in this country. Money, establishmentarianism, and corrupt politics and patriarchy run this country. I don't know if I have any hope for a better or brighter future in this regard. I honestly feel hopeless and don't see how things will ever change unless there is a massive revolution where a majority of common people join together to take down billionaires, corporations, and corrupt politicians.
I don't see how this will happen in my lifetime.