This is only a seed. An idea for a scene for my work in progress, The Cold Calculation. Who knows if it will fit in the overall narrative, but it does the additional job of serving as a character piece for Edgar. Enjoy.
BIG BROTHER, LITTLE BROTHER
“I don’t understand your aversion to technology,” he said. “You keep yourself walled off from the rest of the world, refusing to let anyone in simply because you’ve got some Luddite prejudice against progress.”
“No,” Edgar swallowed the last of his whiskey and pulled his cigarettes out of his pocket. “You’ve got it completely backwards, buddy. I don’t hide from the world because I hate technology, I hide from technology because I hate the world.
“There was this book written a long time ago, and while it’s considered quaint now, it people held it in very high esteem for a long time after it was written. People hailed the author as some sort of prophet. You see, this guy imagined a far-flung future in which a totalistic government controlled the flow of information to its people. That’s important: the government and its people, not the other way around.
“Well, this government had cameras and microphones everywhere. The entirety of their lives were recorded and monitored and any dissention was reported to the dictator, some guy no one had met and no one had seen called Big Brother. He was supposedly everybody’s friend and advocate, but there were people who didn’t believe the propaganda. They didn’t even believe there was a singular Big Brother.
“Anyway, that idea—that invasion of privacy—became the moniker of any intrusion into the private lives of the citizens. I mean, in the real world, outside the book, people worried about an omnipresent, omnivoyant government running roughshod over their lives, and they used this book as a warning. ‘Big Brother’s watching,’ they’d say.”
Edgar shook his head and lit his cigarette, taking a long slow drag, releasing the smoke before continuing.
“But they had it wrong. They didn’t need to worry about Big Brother. Sam, do you study history?”
The thin man shrugged. “As much as anyone.”
Edgar scowled. “So, no? Well, before people had their rachs implanted, they wore them like hats. Had these sensors—looked like bony fingers—running off a central ridge, but the connections were for shit and data didn’t always process quickly or correctly. Accuracy was terrible, but it was new tech and it was trendy and cool.
“Before that, there were home units that plugged into old style computers. Big, clunky things that weighed ten ounces or so and had to be charged by plugging them into an outlet every ten hours or so—you know what outlets are?” Another drag on his cigarette, filling the dim cone of light with a blue haze.
“And before that? They carried these little computers in their pockets. They were horribly slow, and if you think the first rachs were inefficient, you should see these things. No direct access; the best they could muster was a clunky voice activation, and they weren’t even individually calibrated. Way back then, probably before your parents were even born, these ancient not-a-rachs signaled the death of true privacy.
“They weren’t foisted on anyone as that old book would have had you believe. No government dictated that everybody would carry them, and no authority insisted that people use their toys to document every moment of their lives, but almost everybody in the world carried around a little camera and a little microphone, recorded their lives and uploaded their stream for the world to see.”
Edgar grabbed his empty tumbler and tilted it, watching the last drop of amber roll around the glass.
“I don’t understand,” Sam admitted. “What does that have to do with Big Brother?”
Edgar pointed at him and smirked. “Exactly. Don’t need Big Brother when you’ve got his Little Brother in your pocket.” Drag. “Or in your own damned skull.”