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This is how Shannon’s day starts. From the moment that she wakes up, she has to post something new - not that she sleeps for more than five minutes at a time because of the risk of losing her followers - and normally gets around 2 hours of sleep on a good night. Every morning the routine is: Click. Caption. Post. Every single day. Shannon had only recently reached 1 million followers, but even with her new additions, she still had the least number of followers in her grade. Click. Caption. Post.
It wasn’t only Shannon’s fault that she had a measly million followers. Her parents had been skeptical of the new technology advances that the government had been making, especially the controversial law that stated that all newborns were to be given an Instagram within the first week of their life. Her parents had held out, waited until they had no choice but to give her an Instagram account when she was two months old. Two months, Shannon figured, was a long time not to post anything, which probably explained her lack of followers.
Walking to school, there were many opportunities for a new post. A blue jay perched on a tree branch? Click. Caption. Post. A mowed lawn? Click. Caption. Post. A crack in the sidewalk? Click. Caption. Post. Only after arriving at school did Shannon finally look up from her phone, to see her fellow classmates milling around, trying to find their first class without prying their eyes from their bright, glowing screens. No one seemed to notice when the bell chimed, alerting the students to go to their first class, but everyone raced to get to class when a school wide DM was sent out, stating that the bell had rung.
Walking, or rather stumbling, into math class, Shannon noticed that there were no longer whiteboards along the walls of the classroom. Instead, giant tablets ran along each wall, all of them showing their math teacher’s Instagram feed. Click. Caption. Post. She wasn’t the only one who noticed.
“Hey look!” someone called. “The whiteboards are gone!” No one looked up, but someone else replied,
“It’s about time. Our school is the last one in the state to switch to tablets.” Shannon took a seat near her classmate Eva. They weren’t friends, that was something reserved for Instagram only. No one had “real” friends anymore, because everyone knew that you didn’t need friends when you had followers. They were only classmates, and besides, Eva had almost double the followers of Shannon, which would make her the most popular person in the grade.
When the teacher finally entered the room, he almost tripped over Shannon’s backpack because he was too busy taking a selfie of the first day of school. Click. Caption. Post. As he began to speak to the class, only a few students looked up. Introductions, Shannon thought, were so old fashioned. All you needed to do was update your bio, and everyone would know all about you.
“Since it’s the first day of school, we’re going to do some review work. Let’s start with-” he was interrupted as his phone dinged loudly, and he pounced on it, scrolling through his new comments. Click. Caption. Post. Shannon glanced at her phone. Her last post was at 8:10. It was now 8:18. Shannon panicked- she had never gone this long without posting. She quickly snapped a photo of the crowded class room. Click. Caption. Post. As she looked at her follower count, she breathed a sigh of relief. Despite her lapse of posts, she still had one million followers.
“Okay, as I was saying,” the math teacher continued, “let’s start with some review. If Jane has 2 million followers at 2:30 and doesn’t post anything until 3:00, at which point she has 1 million followers, how many followers per minute did she lose?” No one answered, but the teacher didn’t seem to mind. He just took another selfie to post on Instagram. Click. Caption. Post. Right at that moment, the bell rang, but yet again it was the DM that signaled the students to get moving.
Shannon got up and grabbed her laptop, where all of her class work was stored. Binders and textbooks were things of the past. She had never actually seen either of them, except once on a rare field trip with her class to an ancient history museum. Shannon hurried out of the classroom to get to her next subject: social studies.
It took Shannon quite a while to find the social studies classroom. After taking many wrong turns, she eventually found her way to class. The fluorescent tablets displayed not only the social studies teacher’s Instagram feed, but also the words ‘THE HISTORY OF SOCIAL MEDIA’ in bold letters. As the teacher began talking, Shannon suddenly remembered that she hadn’t posted anything in at least six minutes. As she felt around in the pockets of her sweatshirt, a sinking feeling began to fill her, realizing that her phone was nowhere to be found.
She sprang to her feet and ran out of the classroom. Everyone was too absorbed with their phones to notice or care. Although panic began to course through her veins, Shannon tried to remain calm. She glanced over her shoulder, debating whether she should even attempt to find her phone, because it could have been anywhere. However, as soon as the thought crossed her mind, she knew she couldn’t rest until her phone was safe in her hands. Shannon dashed into the hallway, but she couldn’t remember which direction her math class had been in. Her racing heart matched her footsteps and her heart was in her throat as she ran. She sprinted up and down stairs, in and out of empty classrooms and through many hallways until she finally arrived at her math classroom. Feeling winded, Shannon tried to remember the last time she had ran. Probably not since Kindergarten, before the government had replaced gym class with Texting 101.
She opened the door and nearly fainted with joy. There, lying on the floor of the classroom, was her phone! She knew that the first thing she had to do was check her follower count. Her feeling of relief was instantly replaced by dread as she looked at her number of followers. It was 600,000...no, 500,000...no, 400,000. Her followers were dropping by the second! She knew she had to do something fast, before she lost any more followers. Click. Caption. Post. As soon as her newest post went up, her follower count stopped dropping almost immediately. Shannon couldn’t bring herself to celebrate, however. She had gone from one million to 300,000 followers in a matter of minutes. With nothing else left to do, Shannon sat on the cold linoleum floor of the math classroom, and began to cry.
She sat there sobbing, for what seemed like hours. Although her eyes were puffy, and her face was slick with tears, she still managed to post something every five minutes, as to not lose any more followers. The students came and went, class after class sat down in the desks in front of Shannon, but no one noticed her. Absorbed in their phones, they didn’t hear her sobs or cries. Shannon knew that if she was in their place, she wouldn’t have noticed herself either.