When Meldon turned 7, he went on a summer camp that his Ma had chosen specially for him. Each child was guaranteed their own personal videograph: a friendly little drone that followed them almost everywhere. It cost a small fortune and Melden’s Ma paid for it out of her own pocket.
The camp had quite the adventure lined up for their young charges: camping the great outdoors, fishing, making fires, trekking woodland trails, stories and games… it was amazing. Melden’s already vivid imagination soaked up every bit of it. He even made a new best friend and she was a girl. Her name was Peneloppy. His Ma and Pa were both thrilled. They could see how excited he was on holo chat. He had all kinds of stories to recount, grinning gap-toothed into the wide angled lens.
The feed went straight to Soshio too, and all their friends (and even their friend’s kids) fed Melden’s node with over a thousand likes during his 2-week camp.
None of it turned into Exists.
Melden’s Ma was distraught. She moved like a ghost from one node to the next, one net to the other, surfing aimlessly, reading up on algorithms, posing questions in forums, attempting workarounds.
One evening, after this had gone on for some time, Melden’s Pa gave in.
He came to sit next to her on the sofa. Her face was bathed in the flickering blue light of the portable surfer on her lap. I’ll look into it, he’d said. Melden’s Ma just looked into the blue.
They joined a help chat with a Soshio representative. She took a look at Melden’s node and said she was very impressed, and that 10 Exists was actually pretty high for a kid his age.
I’m sorry, what?
Soshio’s rep explained again that 10 Exists were in fact very good for a 7 year old boy, and then sat through the next very confusing 5 minutes. Maybe they hadn’t understood, she offered: Your son – she looked at each of them in turn, trying to make sure they understood – has 10 Exists.
No he doesn’t; not at our end, Melden’s Ma insisted.
Soshio’s rep wanted to know if they were sure they were looking at the right node?
15 minutes of confirming that they were, and they were still no further ahead.
Well, the rep said, with a sigh. I don’t know.
In the last few minutes, Melden’s Ma was sure, the rep had been starting to sound like maybe they didn’t know how to use the system. Or that they were on 3rd party apps with no accuracy certs. You can’t see he exists, said Soshio’s rep, because maybe your devices aren’t –
Please don’t use that word like that, snapped Meldon’s Ma. And I know how to use the Soshio service. I’ve used it for 35 years.
The Soshio rep was running out of ideas.
Maybe you can get your ‘vices checked out and then if it’s still a problem, you can chat with us again?
Melden’s Pa did the thanking and the goodbye.
Melden’s Ma was incredulous: she’d wanted to know what the hell he’d let the rep go for, when she hadn’t fixed a damn thing.
I’ll ask at work instead, Melden’s Pa offered. There’s someone who knows more about these vice-to-vice protocols. She’s a total geekatron. Probably seen stuff like this before.