"See the world your way." That was the promise of PercepTech's newest wearable device, the Looking Glass. It was a seemingly harmless advertising slogan that became the last words of a society bent on suicide.
"It wirelessly connects to your ocular nerves to augment your reality in real-time. Making the world around you a much more pleasant one!" Annie, the salesgirl, explained.
Gloria looked down at the box in her hand. "What does that mean?" She asked.
Annie smiled as if pleased Gloria had asked the question. "Well, in the fraction of a second, it takes your brain to process what your eyes are seeing. The Looking Glass alters it to make your surroundings more suitable."
Gloria squinted, "I'm not sure I follow."
Annie clasped her fingers, "Hmm, let me put it to you this way. You know how, like on Facebook or Twitter, you can block people and sites you don't like?"
"This does the same thing but in your day-to-day life. Anything or anyone you don't want to see or hear the Looking Glass will change into something less distressful."
"Oh, wow," said Gloria, clearly impressed.
"The Looking Glass AI is constantly combing the internet to help decide what and who you want to block from your perceptions, although, of course, the settings are completely customizable."
"So, I can just see someone, and this will know whether or not we'd get along?" Gloria asked.
"In a nutshell," Annie chirped.
Gloria was skeptical but decided to try it out. The device itself was about the size of a nicotine patch and used in just the same way. Gloria stuck in on the back of her neck and waited for the device to interface with her neurology.
"Looking Glass has finished installing, please standby," a soothing female voice whispered.
There was a flash of light, and Gloria's body jolted like she'd just been electrocuted.
The light faded, and Gloria's vision returned. The sunless winter sky was now as clear and blue as lake Michigan under the summer sun.
"Holy shit," Gloria marveled.
Her phone buzzed. It was a text from her friend Jess inviting her to a cocktail lounge.
"Well, why not," Gloria muttered before answering in the affirmative.
Gloria's drive through the city was like Albert Hoffmann's bike ride. She looked on in amazement as the world molded around her. Abandoned houses formed into charming brownstones with windows that glowed with the soft light of a fireplace. Boarded-up storefronts regained their windows and took on the form of the opulent glass displays of fifth ave or Paris.
She passed a political demonstration, and all the protestors were emojis with enormous smiles. Instead of inflammatory signs, she saw them holding fine works of art. Instead of guttural chants, they sang a Motown song in perfect harmony.
Gloria pulled up in front of the lounge. A giant yellow emoji in a valet jacket greeted her with a verse from a Four Tops song. She gave the valet her keys. "I guess I don't have to feel bad about not tipping." she thought to herself.
The parking lot was around the corner and about halfway down the block from the lounge. Gloria turned down the corner and saw her friend walking towards her with her new boyfriend.
"Hey there!" Gloria waved.
"Hey, girl!" Jess waved back. Her boyfriend gave a wave and a smile.
Gloria was walking over to the couple when she started hearing The Beetles coming in from the street. She turned and saw that familiar grinning yellow sphere. He was hunched over and waving his hands, but all Gloria could hear was Paul Mccartney.
"Hi, how are you?" Gloria turned, and Jess was standing in front of her. The two embraced and exchanged greetings and pleasantries. not paying attention to the face as it continued its delightful singing. Not seeming to notice its arms continuing to flail or its body convulse.
"What are you doing out here?" Gloria asked.
"Brad wanted to get his vape pen, so we were going to my car," Jess said, rolling her eyes.
"Hey, I just like to have a chill time," Brad grinned.
"Oh, that reminds me I got the Looking Glass thing!" Gloria said
"Really?!" Jess giggled. "I got one too. I love it."
"Me too," said Brad
Jess looked over at the emoji, who was now laying on the curb. "This guy does a perfect impression of Beyonce," she joked.
"Ha! I heard Beetles." Gloria said.
"I have mine set to silent," Brad shrugged.
The emoji's giant head toppled over his body went limp. The three friends gasped.
"Oh my god, is that Baja Blast coming out of him?" Jess laughed.
"Looks like an IPA to me," said Brad.
"Hawaiian Punch," Gloria murmured.
The three stared for a moment. "Well, shall we go inside?" suggested Gloria.