Dear friend, there are many things that money can buy. Indeed, friendship is one of them. Just the other day I received a charming advertisement to meet singles in my area, Unable To Determine IP. The internet is a vast and empty place of stray opinions and seething, directionless anger. In this barren wasteland it is hard enough to figure out which one of the many buttons that say ‘download’, actually download things (RIP torrents), much less make a friend.
I remember when you and I met on Orkut, in the Ayn Rand Objectivism Discussion Group. I remember how we both heatedly debated its many tenets and then left immediately when we understood exactly what she was trying to say. But our bond was strong and we held hands and took the leap from Orkut to Facebook, when the time came.
It was different in the old days, crude and clumsy and matted. Facebook was a beast that moved slowly and every person got to wear long chains full of applications to drag behind them. Some profiles went on for miles, clumped together back to back with quizzes and stickers and super pokes. It was a simpler time. This was when we saw the first wave. It came as simply as Vampires and Mafia wars. Why would I grudge you for trying to be the best vampire you can be? I supported your cause to play the game and often considered playing myself.
I’m glad I did not, because that’s when this enterprise turned speedily nefarious. They needed you to tell your friends to play, if you wanted to keep playing. An unending pyramid scheme intended to entrap and enslave. When I first received a request to be a part of someone’s Mafia, I was quite touched. I considered this very thoughtful of them, and decided to politely decline. I thought this was an indication that I was in their thoughts, not that I was simply a face to be clicked in order to keep playing. That I was just a pawn in their enjoyment. This because clear very soon.
The joy of a notification cannot be understated. An red bubble that pops into view, containing desire and anticipation. It causes the mind to run rife with possibilities. Who could this be? What could this be? Did someone like something I did? Was it a message from my one true love? Is it the recognition of all my accomplishments? Is it an old enemy accepting defeat or a new love dropping in to say hi? Is it someone stopping by to admire a picture or my many philosophical notes and poems?
The mind swirls with possibilities, the pulse quickens. Every notification could be all your dreams coming true. But then the thin curtain of hope is pulled away and the world shows its disappointing self behind it. Candy Crush Request.
A lesser man would be angry. A simple mind would scream and shout and smash a keyboard to bits. The simplest mind would write a sarcastic status about this request and the worst sort of person would write a long winded blog post about it. But not me. I did not feel these things, all I felt was broken. The first time it happened I took days to recover. I underwent extensive therapy and attended a support group. My therapist says I need to handle my emotions constructively and not be such a fucking wuss all the time, and I am trying. But every time this happens to me I cannot help but feel a little pain. A speck of my humanity washed away, a heart beat for no reason.
I realised the only constructive way to deal with this was to thin the herd. To tackle this problem at its source. To remove those who sent these requests, so they could disappoint me no longer. Luckily, there was a simple way provided by Facebook to do this. I registered at their Arms And Ammunitions program and received several months training to be a sniper. It was not easy by any means, to focus and hold one’s breath, while perched in a nest for hours, sometimes days. To urinate in a small bottle like it was no big deal. But I persevered, fuelled by my desire to be disappointed no more. I was not just fighting for myself, but for the millions of others who received requests to tend to farms.
Over the last year I have hit all of my targets. I have cultivated a coldness and an apathy towards the ending of a human life. The trick is to dehumanise. It is hard to cause harm to a person, but simple to destroy an object. These soulless fake-notification sending drones were not humans to me. They were fat bullseyes with poor posture. Slumped over keyboards and covered in chips. A barely moving feast.
All was well until I received a notification from you. At first I could not believe it. No, it couldn’t be! This was not the same friend I knew, who looked down on obvious marketing and silly games sad people played. But there was no mistaking it. I saw it with my own eyes, in a tall building across from your apartment. Your eyes playing candy crush with an automatic expressionless manner. My finger twitched with nervousness, but I could not get myself to do it. I could not dehumanise you. There is some virtue in selflessness, Ayn Rand.
I hung up my rifle. It was time to retire. I have moved to a small cabin in the mountains where I spend the days chopping wood with my daughter and speaking in an Austrian accent. I have just let your candy crush request stay in my notifications, unclicked. A reminder of my decision to adopt peace and get away from it all. I hope you understand and hold no grudges.
I have to go now. I think the army requires my help to fight a team of rogue mercenaries. Don’t worry I won’t get involved because those days are behind me. Well unless of course they kidnap my daughter. But why would they do a thing like that?