Searching for the perfect reaction gif for my feed, my hands begin to tingle and go numb. My fingertips twitch. The atmosphere thickens and presses against my skin like damp cloth. My arms lose their energy, and I struggle to keep from collapsing. These episodes have been happening more frequently, but I know what I have to do. With a surge of willpower, I pull my government-issued myFriend out of my pocket and slam the “Social Panic" button. There’s only one button, but it always does the trick.
The myFriend vibrates reassuringly, and the smooth electro-voice soothes me: “Do not worry, Jett. You are not alone. We are watching you. You matter to us.” It asks me to rate my Acute Loneliness, and with trembling fingers I press the bright red 8.
It immediately loads and scrolls through the live feeds from my closest friends, organized by mutual-like percentage. Sarah liked or loved 73% of my statuses, so she receives a “Top Friend” banner around her photos and appears every 4 posts on my social nutrient IV drip. My shaking has become almost uncontrollable. Just when I think I might succumb to a Manic-Introspective episode, I find a video of a puppy she met in a Starbucks. That pixelated moment of connection is so real and heartwarming that I can’t help but comment: “:) :) <3.” I can feel the shivers and nausea subside. Still, it was a close call.
I remember when I first saw the ad: the snow-white rat pulls a lever over and over. The deep voice explains: “When left utterly alone in his cage, he will continue to ask for cocaine until he starves to death. With myFriend, you never have to be alone in your cage again.” The rat presses the Social Panic button, and stops trembling. It speaks happily, jumps on the wheel and begins to run. The NDSA finally found the cure for terminal Stage 4 Human Condition.
These moments of terror remind me of how grateful I am for the constant companionship that I have been afforded through myFriend. The National Data Supervision Association first rose to prominence after they were cast from the shadows by self-righteous, lying media. Despite a fleeting controversy, the majority of us quickly recognized the sacred function that the NDSA performed for us. We have never since taken their role in our happiness for granted: they have streamlined our search for meaning in a chaotic and terrifying universe.
Who needs divine grace or redemption when I have myConfessional? The NDSA’s algorithms even determine with 82% accuracy when my confession will positively affect my social presence, and they post it on my live feed to show my friends my courageous emotional honesty. The NDSA watches over me, cares about me, and has resulted in a 24% increase in mutual-like percentage across the board. Hallowed Be Thy Servers.
The NDSA doesn’t just take care of my spiritual needs, either. When my dating app detects an increase in right swipes, it kicks into hormonal emergency mode. After 2 years of training my recommendation algorithms, a pair of leather handcuffs and a silicon ballgag are delivered same-day to my apartment, and it finds me a cute date with a compatible kink map. Want to know a dirty little secret? Sometimes, I hope there’s some middle-aged NDSA worker burning the midnight oil who catches a glimpse of my bondage recommendations. My biggest fetish is cyber-exhibitionism.
To be completely honest, I’ve been worrying about that oldest fear: death. I’ve been getting up there in the years. All the studies point to prime social growth between 16-18, and apparently it’s just a long slide to the grave from there. I have the same worries as anyone else: how many posts will my Death Feed get? How long will my friends continue to message my profile, to keep me alive on their social webs?
Whenever it gets to be too much— when the world starts spinning around my bed, and just when I begin to feel dwarfed by my slow tumble back into dust, that soothing voice snakes through the darkness and cradles me. “Do not worry, Jett. Extrapolating from your mutual-like percentage, you will get more than 300 posts after your ascension. They will be stored in our data servers permanently, and will never be erased. You will live on.”
I smile as my Morpheus app carries me off to sleep. I wonder what dream I will be fed, and I hope that it will be my favorite: a birthday dinner with my Top Friends, laughing and eating together. Life is good.