The President was about to appoint a new Pope of NSA-Google-Facebook. Aside from 12 Western states, where gangs ruled the population, America was united as never before.
What many writers were calling The Greater System had taken hold in consciousness. People were aware they were living inside a bubble of super-surveillance, and they loved it.
Therefore, the appointment of a new Pope was a momentous event.
The man of the hour, the saint-in-waiting, was Jonas Hoover, formerly a professor at MIT. Famously, at the age of nine, Hoover had written this Facebook post:
“Below, you’ll see a complete inventory of every product I own, with footnotes on method of purchase in each case. My parents’ voting record for the past twelve years is also included, along with their job history, college transcripts, tax returns—and a link to audio recordings of 2000 phone conversations I’ve had over the past two years. See the link to our family’s complete medical records. My diary entries are included. As you’ll discover, I’ve profiled myself 236 times, each time attempting to identify more relevant markers that predict my behavior in a variety of situations. Feel free to contact me for more information, if you are a profiling agency. I’m seeking employment in the surveillance field…”
As a high school senior, at the age of 15, Hoover had published an essay in Metadata, the NSA-Google journal. Academics across America had praised it, particularly this trenchant passage:
“The Constitution was a noble attempt to explicitly limit systems by eroding the power of centralized authority. That document was mainly about enforcing less structure.
“However, the hunger to develop structure is what humans possess in abundance. They impose structure and live off it, like junk food. And why shouldn’t they?
“The overall template of the Surveillance State used to be grounded in the premise that everyone is a potential threat and danger to the herd. Therefore, spy on everybody.
“Now, however, we are well past that point. We recognize that living inside the space of universal surveillance, as a voluntary act, is its own reward, its own joy. No reasons necessary.
“A whole life can be lived by detailing that life and publishing it for all to see—hundreds of thousands of pages, hundreds of thousands of hours of video. A grand confession, if you will, but without guilt, without remorse.
“We’re talking about a bubble, inside which the narratives of our lives are floated and used to sell a product. Who buys? Who doesn’t? Well, each one of us is a product, and we offer ourselves to the world. No need to be anxious about succeeding. Someone somewhere will buy us.
“We’re audience, and as Marshall McLuhan once put it, ‘Audience is actor.’ We’re actors and we reveal our character in immense detail. The burden of ethical, political, or psychological considerations is gone. We’ve evolved past the need of carrying it. This is happiness.
“We’re looking at a kind of Mobius Strip or Escher drawing that feeds back into itself.
“In this state of mind, we tend to perceive reality on the basis of what we think other people are perceiving. Through universal self-surveillance, we move closer and closer to the far shore, where we are all, in fact, perceiving the same thing. And what is that thing? It’s a mere reflection passed through billions of mirrors, around and around, evanescent, sparkling, devoid of content.
“This is the day toward which we all strive.
“Critics have claimed this is voluntary self-induced mind control; people digging themselves a deeper hole in consensus reality. I view it as liberation. Don’t you?”
In the Oval Office, in front of television cameras broadcasting to the world, the President, a minor functionary in the federal bureaucracy, bowed before Jonas Hoover and took his hand. He raised it and kissed the ring. He stepped back.
Hoover smiled and nodded.
“My fellow citizens, I’m honored by this appointment. It signals a new era for us all. From the shores of the old Silicon Valley, to the bunkers of Colorado, to the city of Detroit rebuilt as a single networked data storage facility, one idea has traveled through this great nation for a hundred years: tracking. Yes. We have now tracked ourselves to a degree never before thought possible. Remember Socrates’ ancient advice: know thyself. Well, now we do.
“Conscience, hope, anxiety, desperation; all gone. Outmoded. With gladness in our hearts, we give ourselves over to What Is. Every detail of it. We can record it, transmit it, save it, collate it.
“And with my ascension, we can inscribe it in the book of life. Open your church doors. Flood into their chapels. Give thanks. I am here to wipe away the last shred of doubt. We have arrived.
“This message has been brought to you by NSA-Google-Facebook, your window on the universe, and universe’s window on you.”
(Dateline 2072: the new pope of NSA-Google-Facebook reprinted here with permission of the author.)