Thursday, June 24, 2021

Microstory 1654: Wide Eyes

After Wyatt Bradley retired as White Savior, the world went back to the way it was. Cops were murdering black people, and giving free passes to civilians who wanted to get in on the action. If someone was caught committing a crime on camera, there was a decent chance that they would pay for it, but unlike the way things were handled on other worlds, there was no guarantee. It wasn’t unusual for the judge to just decide that the photographic evidence was irrelevant, and he didn’t care one way, or the other. This was pissing a lot of people off. While Wyatt Bradley’s actions were largely considered counterproductive, both his appearance, and his disappearance, gave a lot of people some much needed perspective. Things actually did get moderately safer for black people while he was around, and the fact that racist crime went back up after he left proved that it was real. To put it another way, as a problem, it was a lot harder to ignore than it once was. He shined a light on the problem, and the afterglow would last forever. No one suited up and became a vigilante, but they did start fighting for change. They organized peace rallies, and protested police violence, and a major surveillance trend began. They called it the Wide Eye Movement, after the product developer that started it all. Cops were not obligated to wear body cams, though they did exist, and they sparked the idea for regular people to wear them. They sold them at an extremely low price, and it was not uncommon to wear multiple ones, to get different angles. Whereas before, everyone had a cellphone they could pull out, and document a horrendous crime, now they didn’t even have to do that. Accountability became this world’s resting state.

Recordings were sent to the Wide Eye servers, and kept for a period of time before being overwritten. Day-length storage space was free to all, and extra storage subscriptions came at an affordable price, though they weren’t usually necessary. Anything that needed to be kept could be downloaded to some other device. If someone believed that something unjust had happened to them, they could post their experience for all to see on the Wide Eye app. They could also technically save a clip of something fun or interesting that happened to them, but they would have to download it to their own device, and upload it somewhere else, if they so wanted. That was not what the app was for, and other users helped distinguish the important, from the less important, or the not important at all. The purpose of this was to make sure no one hurt anybody without being seen. Every customer was required to have at least one trusted buddy, who would receive their footage if they were to be killed, be it by murder, or anything else. The cameras were motion sensitive, so if a user stopped moving for a week—or the cameras were turned off without being suspended virtually using proper procedures—their buddy would end up with proof of whatever had happened to them. If the police weren’t going to police themselves, then the people were going to have to do it for them, and if the courts did not accept such evidence as legitimate, then the offending party was at risk of being crucified by the court of public opinion. The problem wasn’t fixed overnight, but it made it a hell of a lot harder for racism to go unnoticed. Even snide remarks were uploaded to the Wide Eye site. They weren’t labeled as urgent, but people still saw them, and this forced many to be more careful with their words and actions. Of course, this was not without its consequences. Even embarrassing moments could be uploaded to other places, and Wide Eye Services had a hard time regulating this. They tried to exclude such behavior in their Terms of Service, but it was nearly impossible to enforce. As a result, people were afraid to be themselves around others, for fear of being ridiculed for walking around with a stain on their shirt, or tripping on the steps. Fortunately, the age of Wide Eye was limited. Offenders were weeded out of the system, and replaced by decent human beings, with good training in things like sensitivity, and open-mindedness. Policies were changed, and the right people were voted into the right public offices. Twenty years later, Wide Eye Services deliberately shutdown, and ended support for their products. Bad things still happened after that, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was in the olden days.

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