Comments and likes have no value

The social and economic world struggles daily with the inundation of opinion.

But what is opinion worth if it costs nothing to produce?

Ages ago, when “letters to the editor” were the only way to share your opinion with the world at large, such offerings had worth. It costs something to write a letter, type or print it out, apply postage and walk it to the mailbox.

Today, your opinion, your likes or hates, your thumbs up and down, your LOLs or TLDRs or random STAR clicks have zero value. No, I misstate that. They have less than zero value. These days, gobs of reviews, a million claps, and a thousand smiley faces have negative value — negative because they cannot be trusted.

When information no longer contains truth it become propaganda.

How much effort does it take to click a button? Or write a computer script that clicks them for you? What cost to you is that half-second of time? This devaluation of our opinions is at the heart of why social media sucks these days. But how to reverse this trend?

To me the answer is simple: if you value your opinion enough to share it with the world then it should cost you something to publicize it.

  • Want to leave a product review on Amazon or Target or whatever ecommerce site? Then you MUST have purchased that product. Purchased and NOT returned it (returns should be shown as a separate category).
  • You want to “like” that post? It will cost you a penny.
  • You want to write a comment? Then cough up a nickel.
  • You REALLY like that post by your favorite author? Then donate a quarter or a dollar directly to them. (See: The Content Economy)

Your opinion may have value, but only if you spend the time, effort and considered reflection to imbue it with honest, heartfelt truth.

District 10 (a District 9 sequel)

A long elevator pitch for the sequel for the movie District 9

[NOTE: This is an outline. Not a story. There is no “showing” in what you are about to read. Only “telling.” This is intentional.]

On a trail of tears the chiton-skinned “shrimp like” aliens, three million strong, march from Johannesburg north into Botswana. The aliens of District 9 have been evicted by the South African government and “sold” as wards of the state to the corrupt leaders of Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. For 1.5 billion US dollars, the SA president has transferred the inhabitants of the alien slum city to those who will take “better care” of them in their purposefully created AlienCity, west of the capital in the barren Kalahari Desert.

Upon arrival they find that conditions are far worse there than anyone might have expected or would be prepared to endure. Yet the “shrimps” are industrious. Resigned to their fate, they form a government modeled after the democracies of old Earth in concert with their own variety of parliament.

Concurrently, an internal resistance grows within this new AlienCity, of which Wikus van de Merwe becomes an unwitting part. They begin to raid towns around the state and around the country — stealing humans. They imprison their captives in a private, hidden jail they call District 10.

The leaders of AlienCity realize that their ship, which should be returning within the Earthen year, if what Wikus says is true, may be undermanned and under equipped. And, due to their continued oppression and inability to leverage their technology (being denied access to the oceans), they find they must create some collateral with which to bargain — when the time comes and their ship returns. So the alien leaders condone the kidnapping.

Wikus learns how he was transformed. He infiltrates the rebels who are stealing humans and plots to travel south to Johannesburg to steal back his wife. To what end we can only imagine.

~~~

The alien ship has transited the spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy to arrive at a planet where politically neutral species are neither helpful nor a hindrance. However, during the journey, which takes eighteen months Earth time, Christopher, the father alien, discovers his son has hidden a secret in their ship: a human girl of about eleven. She’s tiny for her age but wicked smart, a prodigy, who can sing and instantly create music from odds n’ ends in the ship. Tsara enchants Christopher and when they reach the distant planet she entrances the leaders there as well. They’ve heard of Earth and Humans but have waved off approaching them (us) as we continue to exhibit overt aggression.

However, Tsara convinces them that most Humans are friendly like her, worthy of acceptance and welcoming in nature. They elect to fix the ship and man and fuel and equip it so that it can return to Earth, hopefully, to test for human forbearance. But if hostilities prevail, they would then rescue the remnants of Christopher’s race.

~~~

Wikus’ raid is successful.

But his wife has moved on and being coerced and then poisoned, and slowly turning into a shrimp, she turns bitter and resentful toward Wikus and the aliens. Her hatred of her new race festers.

But her hatred of her father for abandoning her is far worse. She accepts her fate and with Wikus as a complacent accomplice plots to poison the surrounding human populations of Botswana and Johannesburg, turning them into aliens. The rebels avoid the Bushmen who are peaceful and helpful to the aliens. One, who has felt the bigotry and hatred against his culture and race, helps them infect the other Africans around them.

Internally, the infection is a DNA attack; the DNA of the shrimps is more virulent and reactive, but compatible with human DNA, so it infects and then converts.

There are now more than five million aliens living in and around AlienCity. The UN, the WHO, the WTO (which is benefitting from high-tech the aliens are allowing to escape) in collaboration with world governments begin to implement policy, already on the books, regarding the eradication of the alien race.

~~~

Tsara, meanwhile, has taught the neutral aliens and the few shrimp aliens her native languages, including English. She’s figured out how to command the great ship’s information systems. She’s been able to present to the crew much of the recorded human television, which she tries to explain as best she can. Many idioms escape her, “I’ll be back,” “you had me at hello,” “Frankly Scarlet, I don’t give a damn,” she tries but fails to explain.

The ship enters the solar system and NASA, China, Russia and the ESA all detect the returning space craft.

~~~

The response is not favorable. Earth’s defensive and offensive systems go on high alert. This returning ship, they imagine, must have brought reinforcements and invasion plans knowing that Earth is habitable for the returning shrimp species.

A new Terran satellite system, launched after the ship appeared in the sky those six years ago, stands ready to repel planet-bound boarders with lasers and rocket propelled nukes.

~~~

Tania, Wikus’ wife, leads the alien rebellion now. She’s beating the warpath to expand alien rights and proposes a march across the remaining desert, through Namibia, to the ocean where their species can then thrive and live well on the bounty and opportunities the seas will provide.

District 10 has grown to nearly 7,000 humans. The rest of the world is now aware of this prison within a prison and finds itself incapacitated. The threat to these people’s lives is overwhelming, but the expanding threat of the shrimps borders on the catastrophic; an invasive species of the worst kind. Do they send in massive airstrikes and destroy AlienCity — including the humans trapped there? Or do they work a deal, hostage exchange, trade negotiations? The situation is compounded now by the arrival of The Ship.

~~~

Throughout all of this, the corrupt Botswanan president has been rendered impotent, circumvented by world authorities. But he plots his own revenge. He’s stolen a supply of this alien virus fluid and now threatens Paris, Moscow, Washington, and Beijing with the release of this DNA catastrophe.

~~~

Finale Scenario #1

Christopher makes contact with the Earthbound alien leader who explains the dilemma of their plight and that of District 10. Tsara composes a message to the world, which the ship broadcasts explaining the peaceful mission of the two alien races that are now onboard the ship. Her message is interpreted as a purposeful manipulation, a covert plan to invade, and the Earthen powers-that-be release their weapons (to protect earth) and simultaneously try to destroy the ship and bomb the AlienCity out of existence.

Wikus and Tania and thousands of other shrimps make it to the coast and swim away into the ocean where they can survive without issue. Safe.

The ship, being attacked, attacks back and destroys the weapons and all the satellites around the planet, including the ISS, thereby rendering Earth incommunicado. They descend in shuttles and retrieve the few aliens who remain after the bombing, and retreat. Tsara remains on the shore, waving goodbye to Christopher and his son, the wreckage of what the humans did to AlienCity and their march to the sea a stark reminder that humanity is just not ready yet.

Tania and Wikus and the others make it to a distant island where they secretly set up home. The End.

~~~

Finale Scenario #2

The Botswanan president’s plan is foiled but before he goes under, he releases the trigger that releases the alien DNA as a virus into the water supply of those cities threatened. People begin to change.

The alien ship arrives and opens up channels to Earth to discover that their DNA is now changing millions of humans into their species. The UN pleads with the aliens (both races) and with the added leverage of District 10, the aliens work a deal to establish certain areas of Earth for prosperous alien habitation in return for reversing the human to alien DNA conversion and releasing those in District 10.

However, during their clandestine march to the sea, Tania and Wikus and a number of them, before the treaty is agreed to and signed, are gunned down on the beach — a spillover from the bombing. Christopher, having landed, is there and tries to save Wikus. The little alien boy and Tsara, hold Wikus’ hand as he dies. The End.

~~~

Finale Scenario #3

The ship is fired upon as it arrives in close geostationary orbit. Its systems are destroyed and slowly it begins to sink the two hundred kilometers where it eventually lands at great speed in the Indian Ocean, which causes a massive tsunami.

Before it crashes, it sends off a distress signal back to the politically neutral planet and most of the crew are shuttled down to Madagascar. Christopher, his son and Tsara, however, make it in a shuttle to the Namibian coast where they meet up with Wikus and Tania.

The Botswanan president has been killed and that threat rendered inert. But the alien council still holds District 10 hostage. And now with their ship destroyed, they need to leverage it to the hilt. In return for the release of the humans, many of which have opted to be converted to shrimp like aliens (it turns out aliens live for hundreds of years (REF: lobsters)), the Earth government has agreed to annex to them the coast of Namibia (a barren place anyway).

Christopher has brought with him the antidote that will return Wikus and Tania to human form. Tsara is there, who’d always been an orphan, and the ending scene is Wikus holding the bottle that, if he drinks it, will convert him back. The End.