Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Slave Labor of the Internet

You see her every day. She sits down with her cup of water and large green tea. Her eyes are red and her hands chapped raw. She wipes the table carefully and opens her computer. She pours water into her tea and wipes her hands with a towelette. From her wrists up her hands are pink. She is gaunt. Her skin sallow. She looks like someone who never goes outside. She stares at her screen and waits for it to boot up. She takes out a small sticky pad and a pen. She then leans forward and stabs the keyboard.

For the next eight to twelve  hours she will frown and squint at her laptop. She will make notes on her sticky pad. Then she will surf looking for God knows what. But she is looking for something. Some marketing firm somewhere is paying her for hits or swipes or likes or views or just data. It doesn't matter. When they built the atomic bomb there was a giant factory to produce enriched uranium. It required hundreds of women to sit at a console and move a lever all day long day in and day out. This woman sits for hours upon hours with her hand punching the screen. Day in and day out.

She takes a break at noon  and bends her screen forward then goes for a walk around the strip mall. Usually for fifteen minutes. Then she returns and washes her hands again and pushes up her screen and starts stabbing her keyboard. She does not move for another four hours. And you see her every day and she is not married and you know from her clothes and from her frugality with the tea and the water she does  not have much money.

And sometimes she just sits there and stares out the window. Her only interaction is the dead lifeless imagery of the screen. There are now thousands  like her. Maybe millions. People doing the slave labor of the internet for a buck.

The PItcher...the story of a dream


Books by William Hazelgrove