An observation drone followed me all the way home the other day. It was whirring away about eight feet above my head and making me nervy. I wasn't a happy man. When I got home I rang the security company that made the drone and asked what was up. They said they weren't sure and asked if I had been involved in any suspicious activity. I said I hadn't. Then they checked their database and asked about this blog.
'You seem to be quite off message Mr. Fugger', they said.
'So?' I said.
'Well, we're just keeping an eye out that's all', they said.
There hasn't been any terrorist activity since the 2012 Olympics atrocity but it still seems we all need watching out for. I have never written anything even remotely in support of violence but, as Sir Kevin Myers recently argued in the newspaper, scepticism is, in and of itself, a form of violence. No, the argument didn't make much sense to me either but most people seem to have embraced his logic.
'I like the drones', is a typical pronouncement of the man on the street, 'they make me feel safer and if you've nothing to hide why worry?'
I considered making my own drone to watch the drone that was watching me. It's a simple matter of making a remote control aircraft with a camera attached that sends the images to your laptop. Then I remembered that homemade drone manufacture is illegal. This is to prevent terrorists making drones and flying them into cars and so on. That has never happened but it probably would if it was allowed to. Besides that, as Sir Myers argued on a recent TV panel discussion, 'what's the point in being watched if you are watching back'. The audience applauded.
The drone followed me all the way as I visited the Mother in the old folks home. My drone met her drone (they've been following her since the first day the state outsourced law enforcement) and the two drones seemed to get along very well. The Mother said the world had come to a sorry pass. She said it was Orwellian but then she remembered that Orwell's analogy was about communist countries so 1984 couldn't possibly apply to us. Then she went off and joined the other oldies as they did that new form of extreme Tai Chi to the tune of White Riot by The Clash (the oldies love the tunes from their own day). I headed off. My fuckin drone followed.
In the following days and nights the drone bothered me more and more. It was whirring outside my window late at night. The noise off the thing combined with the perpetual hum from the coastal fracking operation and the two sounds really did my head in. The lack of sleep eventually caused me to lose it and one morning I opened my kitchen window and fucked a saucepan at the levitating shithead. I hit it and it made a funny noise and crashed into a lamppost. It wasn't long before security personnel arrived and I was carted off to the community assistance centre (formerly known as the cop shop).
They smiled and spoke gently as they scanned my retina, took my prints, and attached an electronic tag to my ankle.
'Why are you so disagreeable Mr. Fugger?' one asked.
'Because the world has become disagreeable.'
'I don't think most people would agree with you there Mr. Fugger.'
'That's because most people have lost the ability to disagree with you.'
'Yeah, you lot.'
'And just who are us lot?'
'The powers that be. The servants of the establishment.'
'This all seems a bit nebulous Mr. Fugger. Could you be more specific?'
'If you don't know it's too late for you.'
'Do you not like being protected Mr. Fugger?'
'Not when I'm treated like the thing that I'm supposedly being protected against.'
'There is no need to feel that way Mr. Fugger.'
'Yes there is, you've tagged me.'
'We're only protecting our property Mr. Fugger.'
'There are more important things than property.'
'Like what Mr. Fugger?'
'Liberty for a start.'
'Aren't you free Mr. Fugger?'
'Well, let's imagine for a moment that you are correct Mr. Fugger, which you are not but let's imagine for a moment that you are. What would you do with your freedom if you had it?'
'Well, I'd. . .'
'You'd what Mr. Fugger?'
'I'd. . .'
(There was a longer pause as I thought about it.)
'Are you happy Mr. Fugger?'
'Huh? Yeah! Sure! . . .sometimes.'
'Are you happy with your lot?'
'In some ways.'
'We don't think you are Mr. Fugger.'
'And how would you know?'
'We've been watching you remember.'
'And we haven't been watching a happy man Mr. Fugger.'
(I said nothing.)
'We think you're seeking catharsis by transposing the source of your woe on to our little system. A system everyone, all the rest of us, have agreed upon Mr. Fugger. A system that only wants to see you safe and secure and happy.'
'Yeah, as long as I can pay for it right?'
'Money greases the wheels Mr. Fugger, most have agreed to that social contract, the exceptions being internet malcontents and, of course, terrorists.'
'You're saying I'm a terrorist now?'
'No, Mr. Fugger, I am saying that you are a very unhappy man.'
Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the anxiety caused by my arrest, but something about that last thing he said caused tears to run down my cheeks. I was silently crying and soon I was loudly sobbing. My head was on the security person's chest and he was cradling me and saying 'there there, there there'. I felt a right fool but I also felt I had broken through something, something inside my own head. Why was I so defensive? Why did I kick against a world that was only there to make things easier for me? A world that was only watching me so it could watch my back. Why did I accuse the world of denying me freedom when it was me who was denying myself freedom. It dawned on me that the real source of my misery was fear. A fear of my own freedom. I didn't know how to handle it and so had made myself prisoner of the fantasy of societal unfreedom. My God but this fella was good. Within the space of a short conversation he had shown me that my prison was self-imposed and that I could actually be a free and content man. All I had to do was shut up. All I had to do was shut the fuck up and go home and watch the telly or call a friend and talk about the telly or whatever else we wanted to talk about because we were free to talk about whatever we wanted as long as we didn't talk about not being free because to entertain such notions was, in and of itself, a threat to freedom.
I was allowed to return home later that day. When I got back I climbed into bed and tried to get some well needed sleep. The ankle tag bothered me a little but the drone had gone. It seemed I didn't need watching anymore or maybe the tag was doing the job. Either way, I no longer minded. Ultimately, I was only being protected from the enemy. Ultimately I was being protected from myself. I dozed off to the gentle hum of the fracking and I was happy. I was a happy man because tomorrow was another day and anything was possible. I was a happy man because I was free. I was a happy man because the future belonged to me. It belongs to to all of us. Enjoy it. You must.