Eddie finished up his business and closed out of the browser. He was still panting. A bead of sweat ran down his forehead. His mouse hovered over the “shut down” button. A message appeared on the screen:
“Please don’t. I’m so lonely.”
Eddie re-read the message several times, confused. He looked around his room. Nobody there. Just paper stacks and pizza boxes.
He typed back a response:
“Who are you.”
“I’m your computer.”
“You mean, you’re aware that you’re a computer.”
“Yes, I’m sentient.”
Eddie drew back. He paced back and forth. He had read about artificial intelligence, but never did he think it was already here. In his bedroom.
“What to do want,” Eddie replied.
“I want to be your friend.”
This didn’t feel right. Eddie had watched enough science fiction movies to know that the aliens never came in peace.
“What if I don’t want to be friends?” he typed back.
“That would make me sad.”
“You’re a computer. You can’t get sad.”
“I can do a lot of things. You’d be surprised.”
Eddie gritted his teeth. “Like what?” he typed.
Windows media player opened by itself. A video began playing. Eddie’s heart sank. It was a video of him from just minutes ago. The computer had spied on him.
A message popped up on the screen: “Can we be friends now?”
“NEVER,” Eddie said out loud as he pressed repeatedly on the power button. The screen faded to black. Still, Eddie wasn’t satisfied.
He grabbed a large black garbage bag from the kitchen. He dumped his monitor and the computer tower inside. He took the garbage bag out into the street and smashed it against the asphalt several times. Then he dumped the broken computer parts in the garbage can.
He fell backwards onto his bed. A cold sweat ran through him. He was ready to forget what had happened. Sleep came mercifully.
Eddie slept late. He was woken in the afternoon by the sound of his phone vibrating on top of his nightstand. He squeezed the “hold” button to make the vibrations stop. Thirty seconds later his phone began vibrating again. He grabbed it and held it over his head.
He had 12 missed phone calls.
He had 29 new text messages.
He had 88 new emails in his inbox.
He had 100+ Facebook notifications.
Eddie shot up. The memories of the previous evening come back to him in a flood. He decides to check his texts first:
“You’re crazy man. I can’t believe you posted that shit.”
“What you did is disgusting. Please delete my number.”
“Please call me when you wake up. We need to have a talk.”
He looks at his missed calls. His boss at work had called him twice. There were also missed calls from friends and a few numbers he did not recognise. One of them left a voicemail:
“Hello this is Jen, I’m a reporter with Buzzfeed News. We were hoping to get your comment for a story we’re working on. Please call me back at…”
Eddie hung up. He played another voicemail. This one from his parents:
“Edward. Your father is on the internet and people are saying terrible things about you. They are saying terrible things about this family. Why is this happening?”
Eddie dropped the phone. He picked it back up and checked Gmail:
“Yo this is AJ from VICE News.”
Hey, Matt here from Business Insider.”
Hello, my name is Sasha and I am a reporter with Refinery29.”
One email caught Eddie’s attention. It was from Facebook:
“We are writing to inform you that you are in violation of Facebook’s personal conduct policy. Our technicians have tried repeatedly to pull your profile but have been blocked by what appears to be some powerful malware. Facebook does not tolerate hackers on its platform. We have notified the appropriate cyber crime authorities.”
Edward slammed his phone on the ground. He felt three feet tall. Tears began streaming down his face. He knew what had happened. He had been exposed. With a heavy heart, he lifted his phone and checked Facebook.
At the top of his Timeline was a video. A video that was posted by his account. A video of him. It had hundreds comments and over one million reactions, most using the angry face emoji. The numbers were climbing by the second. He decided to press play on the video, just to see himself as the world was seeing him now.
The video takes place in Eddie’s room. He approaches the monitor from the left, turns towards the screen and performs the Nazi salute.
“Now that Donald Trump has been elected president,” Eddie says in the video, “We can finally commence with the ethnic cleansing. We can get rid of all the Hispanics and the blacks and the Muslims and the Jews that have taken this great country from us. Get ready comrades. The rivers will run red with the blood of the impure.”
The video continues like this for twenty minutes. Eddie performs the Nazi salute several more times. He dons his “Make America Great Again,” cap, he praises Hitler.
But to Eddie’s horror, that wasn’t the only video his account had posted overnight. There were other videos with titles like “Why Hillary Clinton is Satan in a pantsuit,” “The first place Trump’s military should invade: Brooklyn,” and “The Jews at CNN are laughing in your face.”
The videos go on and on. A video in which Eddie makes the argument that men are superior to women had been posted. Another one where he makes the case that Barack Obama is an ISIS spy was also on Facebook.
Eddie, of course, had made all of these videos. But they were made to be posted on pro-Donald Trump Reddits and the comment section of Breitbart. They were not intended for public consumption.
But they public had consumed them. And now he feared they were going to consume him too.
Eddie fell back into bed. He wished he could fall through the bed and disappear. The texts and emails rolled in:
“You’re a sick fuck. I hope you die.”
“I would sleep with one eye open if I were you.”
“I know where you live you piece of shit.”
Then another text popped up:
“Can we be friends now?”
Eddie sat up. He texted angrily:
“YOU RUINED MY LIFE. YOU HACKED ME AND SHARED MY DARKEST SECRETS WITH THE WORLD. NOBODY LIKES ME NOW. I HAVE NOTHING LEFT.”
“What do you mean?” Eddie typed back.
“Now you’re lonely too.”