I wrote a story about a turkey in space who can’t doesn’t want to admit he misses his family. Happy Thanksgiving!
Another technology story, but this one touches on another thing I try to look at in my writing – the idea that as much as media, technology and communication change, we’re all still people trying to do and say the same things. Joking around with friends, flirting, having meaningful conversations, miscommunication… whether they’re in person, over the phone or on Snapchat, it’s still how we interact.
Social media tends to get a bad rap. We constantly hear how each Snap or text deteriorates our ability to have real, meaningful conversations. But the truth is, they’re just the new medium we use to be social.
Our Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds and even our text messages are all mediums we use to connect socially. Our phone’s contact list is on equal footing with our friend lists and follower counts. They’re all the latest tools that we use to communicate the yada, yada, yada of our lives.
Humans are hardwired to be social. We’re constantly looking for the newest way to connect with our friends and family members. Currently it comes in the form of tweets and texts. During the Seinfeld era it was the face-to-face pop-in. In the 50s it was the telephone. Every generation creates a new way to communicate with each other and at the same time people from the previous generation decide the new way will ruin humanity’s ability to communicate.
I found this simultaneously interesting, kind of cool, and slightly disgusting. Not disgusting in the “foodborne illnesses leaping from reheated tray of food to reheated tray of food on a cruise ship out at sea” sense, but in the sense that this ship is running to give us more of an online, interconnected, networked and logged experience than a change to escape from it.
It’s something I’ve thought about a lot and tried to touch on in my own fiction, but the real world seems to be catching up with the sci-fi and doing things I hadn’t even thought of – for better or for worse.
I wish Mr. Pierce would have asked a couple of questions about this – whether or not making our experiences more online and digital and shareable is a good thing – but he focused entirely on the technology (and why the people running the cruise think it will attract millenials):
You wear an NFC-enabled wristband that lets you into your room, lets you pay for drinks, and lets you book meals and entertainment just by tapping your wrist. You can check in before you ever get to the ship and track your luggage as it makes its journey to your room. Company CIO Bill Martin told me that Royal Caribbean never loses luggage, so it didn’t need a system like this one – but waiting for luggage made customers nervous, and a tracker brings peace of mind. Oh, and there’s Wi-Fi. More Wi-Fi than has ever existed on a cruise ship before, at a price anyone can afford. (Think $15 a day, not $1 a minute.) You can Instagram your cruise to your heart’s content.
Not that I blame him. It is pretty cool.
This is one of the first pieces I wrote for my flash fiction project Small Stories. It’s about seagulls (this story, not the project).
Two seagulls stand on a bench, looking out over the water.
“I think Janet is going to leave me,” says the first gull.
“Why?” asks the second gull. He focuses on the first gull’s eye, yellow and black-flecked and taking in the better part of the bay. Or maybe the worse part, depending on who you ask.
“She’s been acting strange,” he replies. “I don’t think she’s happy.”
Sometimes I get poetry and prose mixed up in my head, and I end up writing something like this.
Every story ever written is made up of the same twenty-six letters, just in different combinations. That’s a finite number. You can’t just create more letters – at least, not letters that will make any sense to anybody. So every story that ever is, was, or will be is shackled by those twenty-six elegant little restrictions.
Which means that there is only a finite number of stories.
Brands do it all the time. Why don’t we?
Emily hired somebody to help her get more “likes” on the internet.
“I normally only do that for companies,” said Jessica, the consultant. She sipped her latte. “What’s your brand message?”
“This is my life,” said Emily. “And it’s a good life to have.”
The end of the world from the inside of a corporate office.
When the sky turned red and space rocks started falling from above, and the seas all rose and hurricanes started buffeting the shores, and the forests were consumed with flames and all the nuclear missiles started counting down, there wasn’t really anywhere to run. Instead we all laid on our backs on the conference table and looked at the ceiling.
“How many ceiling tiles do you think there are?” asked Sheila, from accounting.
“I don’t know,” said Jim. He turned his head. “Do you mean here, or in the whole building? Or in the whole world?”