Liberlandia — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Photo by Dario on Unsplash

“Liberlandians are just like you and me,” Jimmy Killon declared in his opening monologue. “They are not American citizens, but they still have rights.” The issue with these Liberlandians had been bothering Mrs. Landon for quite some time. The President said these so-called Corporate States were eroding American institutions, democracy itself with their money, influence, and technology. Corporate States’ products were supposed to be bad for the US, but Jimmy was saying something else here.

“Just in tourism alone, Liberlandians bring billions of dollars in business to this city and the whole country in fact. And the President wants to kick them out? What about our jobs, Mr. President? Without tourists, who’d be the audience for my shows?” The audience laughed out loud and cheered. This was the only time they actually mattered. Jimmy smiled broadly. His white teeth lined up perfectly.

His wardrobe was impeccable, his hair flawless. Jimmy gleamed under the studio lights looking like an angel. Mrs. Landon wasn’t fond of liberal talk from city people, but Jimmy didn’t talk fancy, and he was so handsome he looked like God himself had drawn him.

“Liberlandians bring us tourism, yes. But real jobs too. They just opened a pleasure bot factory in the city. Did you hear about that? Thousands of people work there, Mr. President. And besides, what are we supposed to do without the bots? How are we supposed to… you know…?” The drummer hit the metal plates for effect, and the studio audience cracked up.

Mrs. Landon didn’t appreciate that type of profanity on her feed, but Jimmy had a point. At church, Atila told her his grandson got a job at that factory. Getting a job is difficult enough these days. The kids didn’t need the President to get in their way.

*

“These Liberlandians are draining us, man. No one pays taxes anymore.” Jerry Fammell told his audience. Someone booed, and Jerry said, “And everything is made in Liberlandia too; have you noticed that? Maybe that’s where our jobs went, you know?!” Carl watched Jerry live every night; he didn’t like to be late for the news. So when the intro came up on his feed, Carl popped another one open and put his feet up. Carl liked Jerry because Jerry was a people’s man. He smoked and drank on stage and told it like it was. Sure, Jerry was from the city, but he wasn’t like the others.

“I bet if you take your kid right now and lift their shirt up, you’ll read ‘Made in Liberlandia’ on their backs.” Carl laughed out loud in his one-bedroom apartment. If he had kids, he’d have checked their backs just to make them laugh. But Carl was alone. There was no one in his life, except maybe for Jerry.

Jerry’s late-night show was Carl’s favorite. There was something endearing about the way he dressed and spoke. His yellow teeth were so crooked it looked like Jerry would spit them out when he spoke too fast. Jerry’s suit didn’t quite fit. He was too chubby for it. His messy hair and drenched forehead under the studio lights made him feel like any other average Joe. Someone just like Carl.

*

“Jimmy, Jerry, and Laura are what you want them to be.” QPAI’s CEO, Lo West, told the audience at the 1st Liberlandian Media Fair in the Orbital-Reef. He wasn’t used to speaking in zero-g, but he carried on. “Our Synthetic Personalities are what you need them to be. In the ever-changing media landscape of Corporate Liberlandia, your organization needs someone they can count on to steer public opinion towards your goals. Someone malleable who understands how your interests might change in different markets; and can adapt their tone and narrative to match your strategy.”

The entire Orbital Reef was watching. All the Corporate States on Earth and the Atlantic Nations, all of the free world was watching. This was the biggest pitch in his life and in QPAI’s existence. So since his audience was made of free thinkers, Lo could say whatever he wanted to sell his product.

“Maybe you need a change of leadership in Missouri; maybe a scandal in Texas could help you nudge that election in the right direction. Our SPs will not only deliver the most relevant content to the right audience, but they will also come up with the ideal strategy tailored for your specific needs. We tend to think that we humans are unique, and our opinions and decisions come from within, from the depths of ourselves. And maybe that is true for us!” He paused and opened a wide pretentious smile.

“However, the masses out there are fairly predictable to our AIs. They understand humans like we understand microorganisms living on a microscope slide. They know what enrages us, what calms us down. They know what will get us chatty or dead silent. But most importantly, when they tell us a story, they know how we will react! Depending on the world we live in, they know exactly what our next moves will be.” He let that sink in for a moment.

Then, he came for their jugulars with his call to action.

“Synthetic Personalities are a diffuser of mass reaction. And for people to react, you must first take action. Come visit our booth; we’ll love to tell you more about Jerry, Jimmy, and Laura. Take action now with QPAI and unleash the power of profile-tailored news! Thank you!”

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Raw cyberpunk dystopia

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