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Pass the responsibility, please

I wake up to the sound of my alarm, its quiet buzz escalating in volume every ten seconds until I press the button. "Gentle wake-up, my ass," I think to myself. I check the time, but I don't even really need to. It's 7:15am, the same time I wake up every day. Only it's Saturday, and I'm not due to work today.

Were I not to hit the button, I'd get that blasted phone call from the automated state wake-up service. It's a rather nice feature, makes sure I'm up for work each day - but since I don't wish to spend the extra $15 in fees per month, I can only choose one wake-up time. The government implemented the mandatory service in an effort to cut down on tardiness in part of the Worker Responsibility Act of 2019, in case you have lived in your own little bubble the past fifteen or so years.

My kids, fortunately, get their own calls under the plan, so as not to be late for school. Theirs should have gone off an hour ago, I think. I wonder where they disappeared to? Ah, well, not much of a concern. There's little trouble they can get into this day and age.

Since my stomach is beginning to rumble, I head over to the pantry and pull out some cereal. The box, along with the help of "FDA Fred", educates me on the sixteen essential vitamins and minerals that my Cheerios contain. Fred is a pretty funny guy - the commercials for most types of food now contain his witty banter at the end, part of the Child Obesity Prevention Act enacted by President Mike Huckabee in 2014.

Speaking of COPA, I need some milk for my cereal. I reach to open the fridge and my fingerprint is taken by the handle, unlocking the age-restricted portion. All alcohol and other drinks bad for minors, including whole milk, must remain out of the reach of minors by law and can only be purchased from speciality stores. You can still buy up to one percent in the supermarket, but I'm a hold-out, I guess...I liked my artery-clogging stuff.

Unfortunately, that artery-clogging stuff and its higher fat content generate ice crystals like nobody's business in the fridge. They've long since determined the optimal cooling point for food safety, and fridges have been locked at that temperature for a number of years. That temperature seems to be just a degree or so below what's optimal for my milk - but since I'm not supposed to have it anyway, I guess some incompatibilities are to be expected.

With my ice-milk and cereal firmly in hand, it's off to watch some TV. I press the power button and am greeted by the smiling face of the FCC spokesman, thanking me for my understanding as my fingerprint is run yet again. When it verifies my identity, the TV flickers to the age-appropriate viewing selection that I pay $150 per month for.

Age-appropriate is an interesting adjective, isn't it? Thanks to the citizens' registry and content-guard enacted by President Jack Thompson's Indecent, Demeaning, Insensitive or Trite Act of 2020, all entertainment content has been rated as E, A, or B. E is for everyone, A is for Adult, and B is for banned.

Banned content is anything that fails the IDIoT test by having more than two of the four letters, and is included in the content repository only for historical accuracy. There's rumour on the street that some people have broken in and viewed some B content, titles like 24 (for racial profiling), The Sopranos (for violence) and The Office (for inciting poor work ethic).

I remember a time back when shows like that were on prime-time, before we moved to this all on-demand setup. When I was younger, they used to contain just a rating, as did video games. Of course, that meant that anyone could play them at any time as long as they were made available. That accounted for some pretty screwed up people. Back then, the destruction and violence seen in media used to be re-enacted by the kids, resulting in vandalism, schoolyard bullying, and worse.

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Brett Thomas

Anyhow, the system detects the age of the primary viewer by his or her fingerprint. Titles are chosen based on this scan. It then checks if anyone who is not age appropriate may be within listening range by their cell-phones, which must be carried at all times by law anyway due to the Permanently Availabile and Interconnected Nation Act (PAIN Act, for short).

If it detects any minors, all foul language is muted, acts of violence are censored (blood is turned green, if shown at all), and sexual content is stricken. It's pretty slick, really. I wish they had this stuff when I was growing up, I'd probably be a lot happier and well adjusted. The selection currently contains several "adult" pieces of content, which means that the scanners haven't detected my children within earshot. For a brief moment, I wonder where they've gone off to again.

It really doesn't matter, though. In these days of all-seeing GPS trackers, mandatory content restriction, and things like the COPA, I don't have to worry. I know they're not doing anything troublesome, there's simply no way they could. They can't watch anything brain-rotting (most of the "E" TV is educational), video games were banned years ago for anyone under 21...they can't even eat anything all that harmful.

In fact, they're so safe, it doesn't even cross my mind that I haven't talked to either of them in the past couple days. Or is it a week? I know they're doing alright in school, the reports get sent to my email. Any disciplinary issues are handled at the school level, anyway. Since previous generations lied about homework so much, school days were lengthened to let them do it in class. If they were put in detention, I'd have received a call. They're such good kids...

Content in my excellent parenting of my two boys, I settle into my recliner and scan through the "Adult" section to find the News network. Though our great nation has done a lot to obliterate its violence by the tight management of "Garbage in, Garbage out" theory, other nations are nowhere near as civilised. So, much of the news is far too graphic to be an "E" program.

Oh, look...someone has clearly not been following the good parenting doctrines. It looks like two kids have committed some acts of vandalism at their local school, and even beaten up a couple classmates before being restrained by school authorities. A hail of curse words flows from one child's mouth as footage of the children being taken into custody airs.

It looks almost like a scene from a video game I used to play when I was younger. It's a good thing we banned them with the IDIoT act to stop senseless tragedies like this. After all, it's been long since established that these ideas are pressed into the impressionable minds of our youth by inappropriate material, they certainly don't get ideas like this out of nowhere.

Despite our best efforts, I guess some parents still expose their kids to some pretty bad influences. In this day and age, that is a choice - you have to work to circumvent the protective measures. I'm sure glad that I'm a better parent to my kids.

The camera pans to the kids who committed the crimes, and the remote falls from my hand.

"Oh, snap," I think to myself. "Those are my kids..."