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Your Attention Please

Karl El-Koura works a regular job in daylight and writes fiction at night. Visit ootersplace.com to learn more about his work. This is his fourth appearance in Daily Science Fiction.

The green light at the top of his wallscreen sprang to life. Stunned speechless for a moment, Berg Harris shook off the feeling with a shudder. He forced himself up from his couch. Stepped forward. Audience to performer. The great wheel had turned--to his turn now. The great world A.I.'s wandering eye had landed on him.
He cleared his throat.
"This is what I want to say," he said, projecting his voice although the microphone at the top of the wallscreen, beside the green light, could pick up a whisper from another room. "You are fools, all of you fools! Wasting your lives, clawing for your fifteen seconds of fame, fifteen seconds that may never come, desperate for an impassive A.I. to pick your words out of an endless stream of thoughts sacred and profane, and shine its green eye on you, select you to beam your ephemeral message to the world! And when it does, what then? You spring alive, like a subject in a Hawthorne experiment, mattering only when you're measured! Think what that means!--for if you live for this A.I.--if you only feel alive when it's benevolent? no, Sauronic! eye shines on you--what are you when its light dims? Are you--dead?"
Breathless, he stared ahead fearlessly, furiously, his own image like in a mirror projected back at him from the wall, hands into fists at his side.
Millions of eyes had watched him, millions of ears heard the message he'd been relentlessly submitting for weeks now, like the prophet of a new religion who won't be intimidated or deterred from spreading a gospel that needs to be shared.
The green light died out. Berg fell back into the couch, as if finally released from its hold.
He went to bed that night happy, at least content. Thinking. Assessing. Dismissing. Urging his mind forward. Wondering: what can he think of next?, and be noticed again.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, August 26th, 2021

Author Comments

With apologies to Marshall McLuhan, this story was sparked by the thought that we may have reached a point in our society where the message isn't the message, and the medium isn't the message--the messenger is.

- Karl El-Koura
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