Social Debit

Alexander Hayes
4 min readSep 9, 2021


Image: DJPH

The bus slowed to a stop and John stopped scrolling through the latest news posts on his smartphone.

He noted with anxiety that his smartphone battery life had yet again dropped below 25% which was the “threshold for public safety” as had been decreed through a multi-platform popup last week from the Social Safety Department. Begrudgingly he had loaded the SaferSocial application to his device last week and had experienced SafetyLock for the first time in his life, a terrifying awareness that suddenly he lacked immediate access to SafelyScan for access into the grocery store at the shopping center, nor could he pay for his shopping.

As he stepped out onto the kerbside, his recalcitrant body double “Nhoj” kicked into his third-person mind voice, remarking: “…three months till they lock off the paper sign-ins Big John.” He sardonically remarked to himself as a silent reply, “… it's a calamity” as if to reassure himself that despite attempting to avoid this whole government and corporation collusion, life had changed in under two years and CentralCommand was now in control of everything.

The wind had whipped up leaves and in a sudden swoosh of a mini urban tornado, a vortex of golden browns and reds suddenly splashed out against the skyline. Click — his camera trigger sounded as he shot a micro-burst and flick it into SmartSocial, the latest vaccine +5 RankUp social media app. John knew of course it was likely Central Command controlled but the extra points he “earned” for his once highly sought-after creative works he was now willing to forfeit.

As he approached the shopping center forecourt he noticed a commotion between two of those damned RetailPolice, forcibly ejecting a homeless Other. A sharp push and the two goons turned back to guard their post, fluoro yellow vests flapping “SCAN HERE”. The soft chimes of those ahead slowed to a stop as John motioned to Goon 2 that he wished to sign in to access the center.

“…Truly?” the Goon asked.

John nodded and Goon 1 turned to Goon 2.

“… 26 days and nights Karen and it will be finally over.”

John lowered his gaze wrote down his name, phone number, and email address on the pad provided when suddenly Goon 2 took a step forward to within an inch of his nose.

“… sanitize your hands, Sir.”

The rank odor of his breath and the viperous tone in his voice was enough. John shifted his feet, depressed the nozzle, and ejected the cancerous ooze onto his palm the size of what remembered to be a penny piece.

Staring over his shoulder at Goon 2 he stepped forward into the neon spew. Up ahead was the grocery store where they had forced all entrants to SafelyScan in.

Ping — the not unpleasant soft chime from Johns's phone audibly alerted the RetailPolice he was entering the store. John looked up.

“Christ!” he remarked to himself. Three more rows of surveillance cameras stared down menacingly at his entrance. Ten steps to the trolleys.

Ping — the mid-chime audible, slightly more pronounced than SafelyScan in informed him his SocialDebit was now two points less.

“Damned thieves.”

The smartphone screen flashed orange, a warning visible to anyone watching that John was on SocialDebit warning. His trolley access had just cost him double.

What John had learned through the prior six months was that every time he had failed to ScanIn in his last acts of social defiance, his SocialDebit had accrued a fine — points deducted for “Acts of Social Safety Defiance”. No access to the meat section was his first fine, then no access to dairy which just about ended his marriage.

Not only did he lose precious access for those four long weeks, but he had to mandatorily report to the local Social Safety Department before nightly curfew. Luckily his SSD reporting point was within his five-kilometer LGAPrecinct he had remarked at the time to his husband.

That too had led to a noticeable shift in Family relations.

Same-sex marriage which was once so cool and hip in downtown Samesville even up till a year ago had now given way to seven styles of haircuts and hateful remarks from strangers. The worst was being called Them in front of his friends by complete strangers along with the stench from the rotten eggs thrown at their apartment door from the courtyard below at night.

Then came the comments, “… so I take it you are an AntiVaxxer too huh?”

Shocked, John had slapped the cheek of his Cousin who promptly turned on his heel and had never spoken nor contacted him again since.

“… Nasty statist!” John yelled at his back. There began John’s descent into what he liked to call, “My little acts of defiance for the social good” muttered inaudibly under breath should his always listening ScanIn app pick it up.

Not only had he picked up the bad habits of “speaking out against social order” the lizard featured Social Safety Department Officer had remarked, but he was formally warned against, “… distributing illegal misinformation” which now included anything spoken or written with the term “COVID-19” or “plandemic” included.

A jail sentence of five years had then become SafetyLaw he recounted, where either of those terms spoken out in a public setting had to date led to millions of arrests and incarceration worldwide.

Only 18 months prior John would never have imagined that even his spellchecker automated popover software would force him to retype his words and refusal to send in chat, each occurrence another 100 points down on his already low Social Debit.