Ups and Downs

Content: Chapter 2

I saw Macy for a total of five minutes before she went to her room, dragging her bags behind her.  I feel like every waking hour of her day is chopped up into two distinct portions- times where she is posting and times where she thinks about posting. She has to make a new update or piece of content in time with what seems like a premeditated schedule in order to sate her followers and get that fresh hit of dopamine from the sudden rush of heart-shaped icons.  

Through the wall I could hear the short periods of her pouring her heart out over a new piece of clothing, followed by the extended silence of her changing into whatever new thing she had gotten, and fawning loudly once again.  Other days her videos seemed to be streams of consciousness, or more accurately a waterfall of cutesy mouth sounds, slang I had never heard before in my life and other squeals, while she did her hair or put on some fresh shade of makeup.  She didn’t speak that way in real life, and in fact, was an English honors student who got better grades than me when I was in the same classes, but no judgment here.

A couple of years ago I would have thought that Cameron was going to head off to college, as brainy as he was, but he went viral with the inclusion in some famous montage, and with that, he ditched his scholarship to hone his craft yelling into a microphone.  Again, no judgment.  At this point, it seemed as if I were going to be in college ahead of him, but also I am aware that the internet can never keep its focus on one thing for a very long time.

Speaking of the internet, you’re probably realizing now that we are all heavily reliant on it.  I can remember clearly the last time it went out.  Cameron, live at the time, was the first to notice as his broadcast came screeching to a halt.  His rare appearance into the rest of the house was proceeded by his voice. “Dad?”

“He’s out in the garage.” My mom called back from the kitchen.

“He didn’t trip a breaker again?”

“We got the garage on a separate circuit a few weeks ago, don’t you remember?”

By that time, he had already gone into his mode reminiscent of my sister.  Phone in hand and camera pointed at his face, he began his rant to his followers on whatever social media he felt appropriate, explaining the situation.  “Internet is down boys, you know the deal.  Stick around and hit us with some pray emotes in chat to get the internet gods back in our favor!”

Macy came out next. “Cameron, you’re too loud.  I’m trying to record something.”

“Well, good luck uploading it, cause the wifi is down.”

“Is that why my upload stopped?” I heard my dad’s voice suddenly coming from the hallway that connected the house to the garage.

“I heard they were doing some work on the street down the road,” My mom spoke up.

By that time, my quiet time of typing away on my laptop from the couch in the living room had come to an end.  At the very least, it was the closest to seeing the entire family engaged together in one place for a long while.

“What sort of work?” Cameron asked.

“Who knows?” My mom responded with a shrug. “Oh, actually I picked the notification off the door a couple of days ago.”

“And that is where?” Dad said with a hopeful look.

“Uh…” My mom paused from her label-making to scan the available flat surfaces around the front of the house. “Oh right, it’s in the pile.”

“What pile?”

“Of documents.  I was going to do a bill-paying ASMR.”

“ASMR?” Macy suddenly popped out from the hall as she was on her way back to her room. “Mom, you’re too old for that!”

Dad looked between mom and his daughter. “What’s this AM…SR nonsense?”

“Whispering different stuff and playing around with the microphone… it makes your ears tingle or whatever,” Cameron mentioned while swiping about on his phone furiously in the corner.

“People watch that?” Dad asked.

“They do,” Mom replied, fully assured of herself.

The tension held in the room for a while longer while my family members were deciding what to do with themselves in their newfound internet-free life.  The low clacking of my laptop keyboard must have been too much for them to handle, and several sets of eyes were suddenly on me. “If… if they cut a line somewhere… like for the internet… that might be bad, right?”

Dad rubbed at his face and let out a low huff. “I mean, yeah.  C’mon, I got a video needing to be ready for tomorrow.”

“Uh yeah,” Cameron complained. “And I got viewers dropping by the millisecond.  Forget it, I’m going to take my phone’s internet.  Mom, you’ll allow me some extra data this month, right?”

“Forget it, Cameron!” Macy responded first. “I need that for going live this weekend when I’m out.  People on your channel can just watch someone else!”

“Uh, yeah, that’s the point!” He hissed back at her.  “They need to be watching me.

Dad was pacing and moving back and forth across the living room to check down either side of the street. “Maybe if they wrecked some line out there, I could head out there and try to help them out.”

“The city would not like that.” Mom admonished him, “besides, you’re a woodworker, not a cable guy.”

“I know how to get my hands dirty.”

Trying to block out the loud conversation, I noticed the twinkling of an icon in the corner of my screen. “Uh… looks like it’s back.”

Dad yanked out his phone and confirmed. “Hey, yeah.  Thanks, kiddo!”

A clear enthusiastic call came down the hall from none other than my older brother. “Let’s go boys!” followed by a loud slam of the door.

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