Colin Smith-Jones-Black is 12-years-old. He lives with his mother in a three-bedroom apartment on the 75th floor of the Eureka V building in Docklands. Colin attended kindergarten and primary school but no longer “physically” attends school given that the roads have become so congested and he now has the option of attending online.
All his schooling and his entertainment is instantly downloaded from the INFOBANK, the central nervous system of the household. It comes complete with a huge three-sided floor-to-ceiling, virtual reality cinema screen in the lounge room. The latest releases now come out at the same time as the movie houses (formerly called picture theatres). In his short life he has never seen a film made by a non-US movie production studio.
Colin's mum, Britney Smith-Jones, doesn't go out to shop anymore - she places her order via the net, and the delivery arrives through the special chute at the gates of their housing enclave. She orders pre-packaged meals according to her and Colin's personal dietary plans which are in turn based on their genetic pre-disposition to a range of dietary related diseases.
Britney works from home as a day and night trader on the OZASIA stock market, a conglomerate of the Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Sydney exchanges. She has worked for five different organisations in the last three years and has changed roles seven times. Her boss lives in Hong Kong and the members of her project team live in Bangalore, Santa Monica, Birmingham, Khota Bharu and Darwin. Change is the only constant in her working life.
When she feels her concentration flagging, she dials up Café Dot.Com (formerly Café Dockers) and a decaf skinny soy milk latte arrives within five minutes.
When she is working, Britney often listens to talkback tele-radio, which now comes to each home via INFOBANK. Even the callers are televised. The bullying shock jocks and shock janets of tele-radio have become so powerful they can fine tele-listeners and can even sentence people to prison, just like that old TV show Judge Judy.
Even her religion is downloadable with a menu of "Internetovangelists" providing daily spiritual on-line telecasts. The churches still exist, but only as major providers of welfare, their Sunday congregations disappeared along with the local church buildings 15 years ago.
When she was little, Britney used to go to what was then called the Telstra Dome to watch football. She now watches every game live via the net, given that the AFL long ago decided there was much more money in TV audiences than real ones.
Colin and his mum have a bit of a problem with their weight. They never have to build up a sweat, or raise anything but a finger to make all the technology in the household work. So they feel obliged to be "Active for Life" by walking for 30 minutes a day on the INFOBANK treadmill which folds out from their screen as any one of 3,000 urban or rural walks is automatically downloaded.
Colin's grandmother and great-grandmother are still alive - both physically fit, and both living on their own. Britney has organised for them to have INFOBANK installed in their apartments, so as to facilitate digital contact. So in the name of convenience, even family relations has entered the virtual realm.
But Colin and Britney get a sense of sadness when they talk with them on the net. Their apartment is in a walled suburb, and their house has an elaborate security system that tries to keep out those such as the chronically unemployed, and the heroin and alcohol dependent underclass. Britney and Colin fear them, and prefer to stay indoors, especially as the very graphic nightly news beams instant violence into the house and the over-sensationalised headlines plant seeds of fear in their minds.
Oh I forgot to mention Colin's Dad, Leonardo Black. Leonardo has married for the fourth time, each time the marriage lasts a shorter time, but each time Colin gets a half sibling and a new stepmother. Christmas Day is pretty confusing.
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