© 2019 Orris Root

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The Generation of Connection

     Rebecca sat quietly at the table closest to the entrance of the main cafeteria. The room was silent. Most of the freshmen and sophomores were currently downloading their daily dosage of emotions from the App Store. Her table was packed with students sitting beside each other who were instant messaging each other about #Hoco2K19, but she still managed to study her AP US History book. As soon as she picked up a page to turn it over, a single voice broke the silence and pierced her concentration.

     “Rebecca! Get your butt over here and add me on Snapchat! I’m on­—like—19% battery!” exclaimed Danielle as her posse of exceptionally close friends blankly stared at their feeds. “Hurry!” she commanded.

     “Okay, now what am I supposed to do?” asked Rebecca confusedly as she unlocked her smartphone. “What is Slap-Cat?”

     “OMG! I said Snapchat, not Slap-Cat,” retorted Danielle after rapidly capturing a thousand photographs of her face in incredibly adorable digital dog ears.

     Rebecca felt a bit attacked. All she ever wanted to do was to fit in, and it seemed the only way to accomplish that was to immerse herself in the internet and connect to social media.  She had no friends since she never made an online account to request access for friendships (which were also somewhat expensive due to the repeal of relationship neutrality). Her fellow students would constantly advise her to create an Instasham and Spitter. However, the only internet account she had was a Falsebook profile she created in the third grade, but only grandparents used Falsebook now. She wasn’t like the rest because her strict Gen X parents always told her not to get involved with “that satanic social media propaganda” on the web.

     “Hey, Danielle! We have an hourglass!” a young man obnoxiously yelled across the cafeteria.

     Danielle immediately sent a suggestive photo to Jack in order to prevent the her most prized achievement, her 1,500-day-streak, from vanishing. She then proceeded to create a new Snapchat account for Rebecca.

     “Here ya go, Becca. I gave you a cute name too, so you’re welcome,” Danielle said as she handed Rebecca her really outdated smartphone from 2017.

Rebecca scrutinized her phone screen and observed the simple ghost-shaped figure against a bright yellow background. At that moment, Rebecca’s memory of her parents’ advice was wiped from her brain and she became one of them.

 

     Three weeks after the creation of Rebecca’s portal to infinite knowledge, the once timid girl had made herself known amongst all teenagers in her area. She had more than 20,000 friends she continuously communicated with online and always responded to because it would be rude to ignore messages. Whenever she was seen, whether at school, at work, or at home, she was attached to her mobile device with cords that entered her arm’s veins to keep her phone battery charged. She now belonged to an official group of friends, which was certified by the AAA (American Adolescent Association), and the group agreed to hang out on a Saturday night to celebrate the release of Jogan Paul’s suicide skit on MeTube. They were to meet at Sam’s house and have the time of their lives!

     “Welcome! My parents aren’t home, so feel free to—like—photograph whatever you find in their bedrooms,” announced Sam to the group, which included Danielle, Jack, Jessica, and Gilbert.

     Gilbert wandered in the house after the group settled down in the living room. He accepted Sam’s invitation and explored the laundry room downstairs. He was considered the weird one. Gilbert surely was an odd fellow

     “What’s up?” asked Sam after looking up from his newly transplanted hand that secured a built-in iPhone 11.

     “Nothing much,” responded Jack after activating his social interactions switch.

The gang heard A quick succession of thudding coming from stairs. Gilbert swiftly opened the door.

     “Whoa! This Tide Pod—like—tastes really—like—good! Yo! You all should—like—try this out!” enthusiastically hollered Gilbert.

     “Gilbert, you’re so old! Ugh. Tide pods aren’t cool anymore; putting your social security number on social media is what’s in now,” declared Jessica.

     Seconds later, Gilbert collapsed to the ground and clenched his chest. The group crowded around him and watched to see what was happening. They stood there and whipped out their cellular devices to record the spectacle. Gilbert stopped moving. His mouth had begun foaming and the boys quietly giggled to keep their laughter from being picked up by their video recordings.

     “Oh my gosh! Do you think it was the Tide Pod!” screamed Rebecca. “It must have been! Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh!’

     “No, no, no. He just had a heart attack, that’s all,” responded Sam “I guess I’ll have to delete my Snapchat post now.”

     “Oh. Phew. I really thought he died because of the Tide Pod,” Rebecca calmly remarked before promptly turning back to her life-sucking gadget.

     The room went silent once again until Jack strongly exhaled out his nose when he saw a funny image on his screen.

     “Hey. Look at this,” Jack said as he presented an aircraft that resembled a phallus on his portable 100-inch screen.

     “Ha. LOL,” said Sam.

     Another 10-minute pause in the conversation occurred. All participants of the get-together except Jessica kept absorbing infinite wisdom from their devices. Jessica studied Gilbert’s state ID and noticed that Gilbert was an overweight 96-year-old with heart disease from Canada who still desired to be cool and an intellectual just like everyone else in his AAA certified group.

     “Hey, did you know that Gilbert was actually from Canada?” asked Jessica.

     “Ah. That’s why he ate the Tide Pod. He was Canadian. Poor guy, answered Sam. “What a bummer.”

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     A silent hour later, Rebecca felt odd. She had so much to say but never said any of it. She was holding back every emotion. Rebecca was noticeably becoming irritated, and after fighting to open her lips she started crying.

     “What’s wrong, Becca?” asked Danielle 15 minutes after Rebecca started sobbing.

     “Why don’t any of you talk to each other! I don’t even know how I am still doing this!” Shrieked Rebecca. “We are all just a bunch of brain-dead zombies and you guys are aware of it! I know you all are! We literally witnessed a guy die because he swallowed a Tide Pod.”

     The affable group looked up for a moment, then back down to their devices.

     “What? Sorry, Becky. Could you say that again, but—like—slower?” asked Jack.

     “No!”

     Rebecca viciously ripped the cords out of her arm and threw her phone at the wall. Her friends just sat there watching Snapchat stories. She ran towards Sam to force him off his enormous screen. It was only then that they got off their soul suckers and agreed to evict her from the party. The teens hit a few buttons on their phones which caused Rebecca to slowly fade away from the room.

     “What is this! What are you doing!” cried Rebecca. “NOOOOO!”

     They all expressionlessly watched her disappear.

 

     Everything was black for a moment. The sound was gone, and then she realized where she was. She was home in her bedroom. She lifted an aluminum headset off her head, a virtual reality headset. She decided to throw it away because whatever happened had terrified her. There were no holes in her arm where the cords would have been. Rebecca went downstairs to the kitchen and spotted a table where people from her school were seated.

     “Did you just screenshot my picture?” asked one of them.