I’m awakened by the sun’s first rays. The night’s dreams are immediately gone and forgotten. I jump to my feet. I feel no need to contemplate the day’s events from bed. I’m on a mission.
The concrete below my feet is especially warm for a May morning. The sound of beating metal amplifies as the train approaches. An odor of sweat and rancid trash filters through my facemask as I enter the tin box time machine.
“This is the Manhattan-bound 7 train. The next stop is Junction Boulevard. Stand clear of the closing doors please,” the robo conductor announces.
The train car is nearly full, mostly of the homeless sleeping off the morning’s struggles. I take one of the few empty seats. An ad on the opposing wall begs my attention.
Together, we can make a better world.
Know someone who owns Bitcoin? They could be a terrorist.
If you know something, say something.
I load Miombo to escape the filth. With an endless savannah view and sounds of an awakening forest, my mind is at ease to wander through my Rabbit Hole education. Satoshi’s words echo in my mind as I replay the economic events that created our current state of despair.
The 2008 financial crisis and the government response to bail out the banks.
Chancellor on Brink of Second Bailout for Banks
The people’s frustration manifesting into protests, like Occupy Wall Street and The Yellow Vest Movement.
We can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.
Central banks’ inability to end financial stimulus.
The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust.
The virus catalyzing the great stimulus jubilee and forcing governments to finally let the spoils trickle to the people. Soon after it reaches their hands, the money becomes worthless through hyperinflation.
…eventually at most only 21 million coins for 6.8 billion people in the world.
The government attempt to flip the narrative by blaming Bitcoin for inequality and poverty. Satoshi, now the wealthiest ‘person’ in the world with an estimated 1 million bitcoin earned from bootstrapping the network, has become the ultimate scapegoat.
“Now arriving at Times Square,” I hear the robo conductor announce from Miombo. I turn my glasses onto AR mode.
From the foot of the station stairs, surveillance drones pass through the otherwise clear sky.
A billboard advertisement enters my horizon as I ascend. A woman in cheetah print athletic wear with matching glasses and gasmask slowly crawls through a burning forest. The screen fades to black as gold letters fade in, ‘The bold rise from the ashes’, followed by the brand name, ‘Ducci’.
A swarm of people enter my street-level view. Most are wearing glasses and performing stationary gestures — crouching, arm swaying, sword fighting, gun shooting — that are only sensible in their virtual worlds.
Otherwise hard to access 5G and charging stations have turned Times Square into the Faceworld Mecca. People come from all over to play, consume and share branded experiences in exchange for Liberty coins.
Through several hours of ad consumption each day, they can earn just enough to survive IRL and live like royalty in their virtual lives. In the Metaverse, we call them ‘consumers’ but Rabbit Hole has taught me their reality is much worse.
They’re regular people who’ve fed on the incremental comforts served by government and corporate interests until eventually satiating themselves into digital slavery.
A knot forms in my stomach from their massive presence. Running into Mom is my biggest fear. I wonder if she would even recognize me.
There are also ‘creators’ who produce experiences from their virtual and IRL surroundings. They gravitate towards centres of mimetic desire, like Mt. Everest and the Eiffel Tower but also Times Square since they earn extra Liberty for including IRL ad space in their experiences.
‘Influencers’ are the only virtuous people not wearing glasses. It’s the ultimate status symbol. They’re usually surrounded by paparazzi creators as they shill whatever brand that pays the right price.
Otherwise, there are the glassless and shadowbanned. Their Liberty and means of earning more have been seized. They are the casualties of the system.
The surrounding billboard ads suddenly converge. A 50-story rendering of Duane “The Rock” Johnson appears. “Rock out with me, the coolest influencers and the hottest music at Face Fest 2028!” he says before staring directly into the crowd with that weird cock-eye look.
Face Fest is Faceworld’s annual virtual music festival. Scheduled around high school graduation, it’s meant to be an end of school year celebration. Faceworld even ‘gives’ teenagers Liberty to attend. It’s their way of sucking them into the ecosystem.
Every 4 years, the timing happens to coincide with the Bitcoin Halving. Skeptics speculate the diversion is not a coincidence.
Many attendees login from Times Square. Partly for the free 5G but also for the selfies among the IRL crowd. Faceworld even drops their emblematic globe at the festival’s finale as an ode to the venue’s NYE tradition. The gimmick is perfectly on-brand.
The video cuts from The Rock to the festival headliners:
First, Main Streetz, three white Connecticut teenagers rapping their hit song, ‘Riding Burbs’ from the inside of their virtual Chevy Impala bouncing on hydraulics.
Then, Virtually Young Arianna Grande performs ‘thank you, next’ exactly as she did 10 years ago, except as a digitally rendered version of her younger self.
Finally, the main act, AI-SKRILL morphs among avatars as the AI DJ optimizes beats to the emotion and energy of the crowd.
My billboard gaze is disrupted by the shock of a warm sweaty hand grasping my arm. “Pleze ser, give me Liberty ser. Me glasses es broke. I mus consum mor. Pleze! Pleze ser!” begs the extension of the hand. My focus on the IRL ad has blown my cover.
My glasses recognize the face and match it to a profile. A photo of an upstanding version of the man from a kinder time appears in my sidefeed. He’s holding a Starfucks cup with his name written on it. His name is Brad.
Enthralled by time’s effect on the man, my eyes make a second mistake of meeting those of the glassless beggar directly, “I…I’m sorry…” I stammer.
A mob of nearby glassless approaches. My naivety has set off their sucker-radar.
Then all at once, their eyes shift to an object in my background and the glassless beggar releases his grasp from my arm. Green pieces of paper fall from behind me to the feet of the glassless mob. $20 dollar bills. The loose change is just enough to distract the mob’s attention.
A burly bearded man grips my freshly released arm from behind. The rainmaker, I assume. ‘Unidentified Man’ blinks in my glasses’ sidefeed. “Come with me, Otto. And for fuck’s sake, keep your eyes forward.”
Not feeling like I have a choice, I follow the stranger.
It is in the interest of Tyrants to reduce the People to Ignorance and Vice.Samual Adams