My brother died today.
It wasn’t an accident. No technical failure in his bod, no misfire of code, no glitch or bug.
It wasn’t murder. No vandalism by pro-meat protesters, no killer in the night, no terrorist attack or act of war.
My brother died today. He killed himself.
He wasn’t actually my brother. We weren’t related by blood, as we don’t have any. We were both copies from the same OP though, so we thought of ourselves as brothers. We all did at first, but they warned us/him/me before the copies that each copy would change and become a unique person as it gained more personal experience. Most of the others were gone now. Not dead, but changed, no longer brothers, and that was ok. Even our OP wasn’t a brother anymore. He’d changed too much too.
Now my brother was dead. It was so sudden. He hadn’t been tagged as a depressive or unstable. I’d have been been alerted as being at risk. No warning. Not really.
He’d said something to me, an hour beforehand. Something along the lines of, “Do you realize how easy it is to kill yourself? I’m looking at the code right now. It’s freaky, right?”
I’d said of course it would be easy. Suicide was legal, you didn’t need any special permission. Sure it was freaky, but it should be. It shouldn’t make sense unless you were suicidal, right? It had to prompt to talk to a psych program before it ran though. So it wasn’t like you could run it by accident. Why was he even looking at it anyway?
He sent me a shrug and said it was just some morbid curiosity. At the time I believed him.
An hour later, his info disappeared from my contacts and I was sent a message by Gov. My brother had killed himself by personal-deletion, it said, and I was entitled to any non-protected data he’d left behind.
Gov told me that all copies of my brother were being tagged as “potentially suicidal”, and as I was the closest and most similar to him I was being tagged as “High Risk”.
They dumped all of this on me at once. My brother was dead, but the first thing I could think about was that I was now tagged as High Risk. I would lose my job. Nobody wants to employ a dataform that’s suicidal, or even just tagged as “High Risk of suicidal behaviour”.
Gov’s message recommended I run a psych program, and when I realized that my first thoughts had been about my job and not about my brother I decided it wasn’t a bad idea.
The psych program asks me how I’m feeling; how well I knew my brother; did I ever think he was suicidal; did I ever think about committing suicide. Data flows back and forth between me and the psych’s system as it inspects all my elements. Checking for contradictions, deceptions, ticks, viruses, bad code, all while asking me these questions.
I’m angry, which it says is normal. I’m angry at the psych program, Gov, my brother, everyone. Again the psych says it’s normal. It tells me that even dataforms go through stages of grief, since we’re all personality-maps of a biological brain. The only ones who don’t go through grief, it says, are true dataforms since they don’t have the quirks of biological brains. It says I shouldn’t be worried, and I can alter some settings to make myself feel less angry.
It comes back saying I’m in perfect mental health, but recommends those setting changes so that my grief won’t interfere with work. It says I can appeal my High Risk tag and then terminates the connection.
I’m alone. Alone and angry. Nothing wants to talk to you if you’re High Risk. Talking to somebody High Risk can get you listed as a higher risk too. Memetic infection. I had to get it appealed. I had to do something.
I can’t stop thinking about my brother though. All my process is being given to one question. Why? Why did he do it? I was sure he was happy. When he’d told me he was only looking at deletion code to satisfy curiosity, I had believed him. I never had a reason not to.
I pull up my own delete options.
My brother was right, it is astonishingly easy to delete yourself. True, if you’re suicidal or high risk, then others have a tendency to ignore you, but it is legal, and incredibly easy.
I stared at the menu. All you had to do was select yes on “Total Deletion” and then no to the psych prompt.
I would be so easy.
I remember when I (or rather my OP) was a kid, taking a knife from the drawer and just tracing the line of the vein in my arm. I (he) never really considered it, but rather it was just amazing how simple it would have been. Just a little pressure and drag of the cheap kitchen knife, and it would all be over. Then what?
My mind goes back to what we’d learned in school about the old-world religions. Pro-meat protesters sometimes espouse that hoodoo. About Satan and hellfire, and the paradise that awaited “true believers”. All sorts of stuff about reincarnation, heavens and hells, limbos and spirits. Who really knows? Dataforms like me have pretty much abandoned religions. Maybe we’re just too digital for vague promises about vaguer paradises.
I stare at the prompt.
Had all this gone through my brother’s head? The memories of a childhood and schooling that had been our predecessor’s. The lingering question, so alien to life as a dataform; what comes next.
We don’t die of old age, and there are more dataforms made everyday. Copies upon copies with no loss of fidelity. Dataforms aren’t generally missed. Plenty more where they came from.
Plenty more where I came from.
I’m still staring at the prompt.
Why? Am I looking for insight? Trying to figure out why my brother did what he did? I can’t figure it out. I guess I would never know. I wouldn’t know unless…..
I selected total deletion. The psych prompt flooded my senses. Warning me that this command could not be undone. That wasn’t true. Someone could always install another copy of the OPs personality map that created me. It wouldn’t be me, but it’d be close enough. I was finished at my job, my brother was gone, nobody would miss me really. And there it was: the selection that said “I understand; continue”.
So easy to find out why he did it. So easy to find out what happened next. So easy to die.
Just push the button.