By Maraea Cardner
The Network is an online social media platform that lets members instantly watch other members’ lives. A chip is inserted behind the optic nerve, and the neural images are automatically uploaded to The Network for members to view. Once implanted, the only way to turn the stream off is death.
While asleep, the chip uploads subconscious images of dreams and memories to the Stream for others to view, even against the will of the host. Privacy is nothing more than a memory. However, the chip can only be implanted at the age of 13, and it is up to the child whether they want to join the millions of others using The Network and give up all rights to privacy, or decline and face social exile by their peers and elders.
Elizabeth, 12, is anxious to receive her chip and join The Network. Her mother, Catherine, 30, secretly dreads the day her daughter will decide to have the chip implanted, but she is unable to voice her concerns because she is part of The Network. She has no idea who could be watching at any moment in time, and she would face social exile if she shared her concerns about the downsides of this platform.
Catherine lives in constant fear that her thoughts about trying to leave the Network will broadcasted for the entire platform to see. Her mental state deteriorates, and she ends up blinding herself, trying to remove the chip from her optic nerve.
Elizabeth sees the effect that the Network had on her mother, and she chooses not to receive the chip. They both go off on their own after the rest of society, including Elizabeth’s father, refuses to have anything to do with them. However, they are content with their decision of privacy.