Lila was annoyed. Her mom wirelessly switched her virtual reality helmet into school mode.
“You can go back on leisure mode after your history homework is done.” her mom said.
Lila hated history. Who cares what happened 25 years ago when we could enjoy what was happening today. But to get her mother off her back, so she could get her helmet turned back on, she powered up her virtual teacher, Mr. Zoomie, and began her lesson.
Mr. Zoomie explained that back then people could really touch other people when greeting one another and some individuals were careless enough to even sleep together in the same bed. Lila couldn’t imagine being with even 100 feet of anyone outside her bubble. No wonder the virus wreaked as much havoc as it did.
The assigned homework was for each student to research and write a small report on how a family member lived in those times. It was technically for extra credit, but her mom insisted that she do it. For some reason, her mom was strongly attached to those times.
Sighing, Lila picked up her iPad 25 and looked for an outdated app called Instagram and opened her mom’s account. Since 2030 every moment of life had been recorded and everybody could put the virtual helmet on and watch their own life in 3D with friends and family. But back in the 20s people were still addicted to posting pictures of the important moments.
Lila scrolled back to 2020 and saw a photo that displayed several squares on the screen within the picture and in some of the squares Lila saw a a couple of young guys with longish hair and scraggily beards, a trend that signaled just how barbaric and unhygienic those days were. In one of the squares, there was Lila’s mom wearing a graduation cap.
The caption for the post read: “Virtual graduation during lockdown! Looking forward to the day when I can hug everyone again!”. As if keeping your body in a safe place was considered something you wanted to escape from. And hugging?? Lila had seen some old pictures of it, but never understood its appeal. Why would anyone want to touch all those people?
Nowadays, emojis had become much more developed and could now appear as a hologram both in virtual reality and in real life, but even back in those days people had been already using them in messengers and chats.
After scrolling through her mom’s feed for a couple more minutes, Lila felt she had enough to get started on her report:
“When the virus came, my mom was a young, reckless rebel. She urged people to meet in person and propagandized physical contact. Even on her graduation day instead of celebrating this great achievement, she was hoping to see her friends. While my mother is a very intelligent woman, she obviously didn’t realize just how dangerous and radical her statements were. Her behavior shows us how careless and naive people had been before the World Restriction Law passed in 2025. I’m glad my mom has changed; she has since chosen to go the legal way and obtain the permits necessary to physically interact with another person. Dangerous times have passed and have called for desperate, but necessary measures in this brave new world.”
“Mom, my homework is done, can I please go?” — Lila asked the empty room, knowing the word “mom” would trigger a notification in her mom’s helmet… Her mom connected immediately, virtually nodded and switched Lila’s helmet into leisure mode. Straight away she connected to the chat room with her friends, who were lounging on a beach in Brazil.
Her mom was left alone. Like all other parents, she had access to all her child’s helmet data and took a look at her homework.
She saw her old Instagram picture that Lila had attached to her work and she wondered if Lila realized that one of the guys in the Zoom was her father? She doubted it. Lila was born after the beards had been prohibited and she wouldn’t imagine her dad having one. She read Lila’s report and chuckled with a twinge of sadness. Of course, this is how she would view it. Even if she tried to tell her different, every other facet of Lila’s life indoctrinated her with a different opinion on the world that we lived in today. Out of curiosity from the photo, Lila’s mother wanted to revisit some old memories on her Instagram page.
So many happy memories. A photo of her at a concert at Los Angeles State Park. Even another of her in a bar! But then she came across one photo that that made her breath catch in her throat. A photo of her at the beach with her friends. One of the last photos that was taken before the permanent lockdown went into effect.
If there were somebody else in the room, they would see a woman sitting alone in a helmet. Even through the helmet’s glass they would notice a strange expression on her face. Somebody from her generation would think that she was crying but why? People today didn’t express emotions. They used emojis instead.