July 15

Social Media Giving Day


All week, you’ve been trying to get online.  Your city was hit hardest by the quakes, and you’ve been really hoping the promised relief will arrive.

If you don’t find out where the food drops are, other people will get there first.  There will be nothing left.

You’ve switched your phone to wireless mode, since the cell towers have been inoperable.  There’s not much battery life remaining in your device.

Funny how some things stick in your head.  You remember that today used to be designated as “Social Media Giving Day” — a day that encouraged people to donate to charities via online apps or websites.

Last year, you gave $10 of PayFriend money to a hunger relief fund.  You felt good about the idea of helping starving children.

And now you’re learning the true meaning of starvation.

Your phone emits a faint chirp, and the screen lights up slightly.  You almost missed it, since you’ve turned down the sound and backlight to save energy.  You race across the fallen debris in your living room, moving to the cleared corner where reception is usually best.

The phone’s browser opens to your usual homepage and an automated pop-up appears, obscuring your local newsfeed.

“Happy Social Media Giving Day,” the pop-up reads.  “Tap to receive gifts from your friends around the world.”

You tap, since it’s apparently the only way to get the pop-up out of the way.

The first gift is a Virtual Hug.  The GIF figure spreads its arms wide while animated hearts float above.

You tap again, and receive a Virtual Hamburger.  The sesame seed bun has eyes that look from side to side while a short tune plays.

With the next tap, you receive a second Virtual Hug.  This one seems longer than the first, with larger hearts dancing across the screen then popping like balloons.

Your next tap reveals a bouncing package with a bright birthday bow.  You have to swipe across the screen to remove the wrapping.  A large hand rises from the open box, and there’s a reminder-string tied around the animated forefinger.  Words scroll slowly across the screen: “Don’t forget to give to your favorite charity today!”

The tapping is taking too long.  You need to read behind these messages to find the location for the government-sponsored food drop.  Squinting at the screen, you still can’t make out the vital information on your newsfeed.

You do, however, notice a number in the corner of the latest pop-up message.

135. The number of Virtual Gifts remaining, apparently.

You tap on the next screen, and another tedious animation begins.

The backlight on your device begins to fade.