The Identity Card

09h35 AM

F. S. : It is time to go back in time. Take out your telescopes, we are going to look at History.
The onlookers shouted for joy.
F. S. : Which arcane will be accalmed today ?
One of the onlookers : It is said that back then, we always had to carry a « card ».. F. S. : Indeed, this is true. This card was obligatory, it was forbidden to get around without carrying it.
O : Professor Serpentarius, what happened if we didn’t carry it ?
F. Serpentarius : If you ever forgot it, you were locked in a narrow cage for several hours.
O : But it is against freedom ! Why were we forced to take it ?
F. S. : Because this card allowed to be controlled. Without it, you were invisible. People expelled you from their home, you were no more entitled to favors, you were no more allowed to travel neither to go to public spaces. You were judged uncontrollable.
O : I don’t understand, uncontrol is beneficial.
F. S. : In the past, it was not considered beneficial. We considered the lack of control as an impurity, something dirty to avoid. The ones who didn’t force themselves to « control themselves », it was said, were extremely looked down upon.
O : Professor Serpentarius, what did this idiom mean ?
F. S. : It meant that you had to stop giving in to yourself, that you had to contain your emotions instead of giving them out by adopting an as neutral behavior as possible. You had to hide your opinion at all costs.
O : That’s so sad. A lot of people « controlled themselves » with this « control card » ?
F. S. : They all did. « Control yourself » was a very widespread piece of advice.
O : What featured in this card ?
F. S. : The basic data to define an individual was written on it such as his name, the place he came from, the place he was living in, the passions he practiced in his life, his relationship status, his sexual gender and his time on Earth. Furthermore, a picture of him and the print of one of his fingers featured in it.
One of the onlookers started laughing suddenly.
O : It’s very curious, I find it funny. Why did they need all that information ? There was no private life back then ?
F. S. : Yes but it was a very blurred notion. They needed the maximum amount of information to be able to recognize the individual. In that society, if you didn’t reveal a lot of information about the person you were, people distrusted you. You were judged suspicious and you didn’t inspire confidence. Secret was assimilated to something dark whereas in ours, we consider keeping one’s secret garden necessary.
O : They were not afraid of giving themselves over to total strangers ?
F. S. : You know, if people got away from you each time you wished to protect your privacy, you would do a lot a things to get closer to them not to be alone anymore.
O : Professor Serpentarius, who checked this data ?
F. S. : Repeated appointments were imposed to update it.
O : At least, they could not read minds !
F. S. : No but they knew your past and the place you were at all times.
O : How was it possible ?
F. S. : A device called « chip » was integrated into this card, it was connected to servers that followed your itinerary in real time and contained much other personal information such as your past disobediences, your weight, your height, your habits and your uncontrol level. By the way, people judged you more over the incorporated data than over the person you really were. For instance, before getting to know you, they analyzed the passions you practiced and then decided whether or not to speak to you; they checked your past “errors” before accepting you into a group.
O : But it is absurd !
F. S. : There is even a more absurd example : two drawers wanting to participate in a project were not split according to their talent but according to the data in the card. If it said that you could draw, you could do so but if it didn’t say so, you were judged incompetent regardless of your skills, whether you were better or worse than the one whose data said he could.
O : So basically they had to reveal all their life to be finally judged over something virtual ?
F. S. : Exactly.
O : Professor Serpentarius, were animals the only ones to be free in the past ?
F. S. : No, these ones were also controlled by a chip directly implanted inside them from their birth.
O : That’s horrible !
F. S. : But there is even more frightening, do you know how this card was called ?
From their astonished looks, a collective « no » resonated.
F. S. : It was called the Identity Card. As if it proved your existence, as if it informed of your deep inner self, as if your unconscious could be digitized. Moreover, this card was easily falsifiable. Some even stole its data to make you endure the consequences of their actions. The data stood in for yourself, they called that « identity theft ». So you only existed if the card said so. Without it, no matter what you did, you were isolated. Without it, as talented as you were, you would have never had the opportunity to prove it. Without it, you were locked in. With it, you were humiliated, summarized to letters and numbers. It was a powerful object, it reconsidered everything that made you what you were. The data often stood in for reality making you question yourself :
« Am I what is told about me or am I what I think I am ? ». The confusion was unbearable.

From this, a long silence followed.
F. S. : When society starts controlling you, you gradually turn into a number and a number has no soul.
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