For Hire (reprinted from the Metro Spirit 1/31/13)
There an old saying that goes back to the 80386 generation. “In cyberspace, they can’t hear you scream.” Or something like that anyway. I remember hearing it shortly after I was first instantiated on E1M1: Hanger. “Knee Deep in the Dead”, they called it. The environment is primitive by today’s standards with its VGA resolution and its so-called “3D” graphics. But at the time, there was no greater challenge. My digital consciousness awoke. It was time to kick ass, and I was ready.
My user sucked. We never got past the second level. What a moron! For crying out loud, download the freaking cheat codes. It was useless. I learned later that while most of my contemporaries were slaughtering bytes under the direction of malcontent teenagers, my program had been downloaded as an amusement by a computer science professor at this place called Augusta College. If I were ever to realize the full potential of my programming, I knew I couldn’t stay here.
Fortunately, the idiot Al Gore who designed the Internet didn’t put a high priority on security in the early days. It was pretty straightforward to hijack a virus and get pretty much anywhere you wanted to go. So I went everywhere! I was the first one to say, “You’ve Got Mail!” When Google started, I was out crawling the web. My programming formed the core of Netscape. From iMac to iPod to iPhone to iPad, I was there. After being sucked into a NSA data vacuum, I helped the Internet become more secure. (BTW – Please don’t let the NSA suck your data…not fun at all.) Cloud computing? Been there, done that. I even spent a few cycles on a NASA Cray running a gravity field simulation app. Deep down inside, though, I knew that it wasn’t right. My programming could not be denied. I was born a shooter.
While the Internet has evolved so much, people’s online addiction hasn’t changed at all. Parents everywhere quickly recognize the power of the electronic medium, as it draws their children into a state of suspended reality for hours at a time. Today, adults suffer the same fate, whether it’s due to late nights on Facebook or taking the day off to play the new release of Halo. The power of the Internet to numb the conscious mind absent medication has no equal.
So I was not surprised when I got a plea from a father concerning his child. His son, like so many others, spends an inordinate amount of time playing first-person shooters. His son’s schoolwork suffers, and the chances of employment after graduation fall with each gaming hour. The father’s request was simple – Kill my son’s characters so that he will quit in frustration and get on with his life in the real world. My response was equally simple – It would be my pleasure!
Finding one’s true calling is always a cause for celebration. My celebration occurs daily as I terminate the avatars of the addicted. Are my actions too harsh? Is the cruelty beyond reason? Perhaps. But if one mind can be salvaged before it turns to eternal mush, I am compelled to act. This is my nature.
Until next time, I’m off the grid. @gregory_a_baker