THIRTEEN - Prompt acting
The screen text read:
CHARLIE, BELAY. GO ANSWER THE DOOR - THE MAN WHO IS KNOCKING IS A FRIEND
As I tried to understand, there was, after a mere ten seconds, a knock at the door. But the countdown on the screen -- the thirty seconds I'm supposed to have to finished entering that into the prompt field of the WOMBO Dream app. I now had 19 seconds and counting, and I was torn about what to do.
Quickly I realized that there was no way for me to enter the text into the prompt field of my iPhone (misspellings, the high pressure, etc). So, at T-12 seconds, I elected, with disappointment, to abandon the prompt and answer the door.
At the door was a handsome man, about 30 years old maybe, carrying a pink bakery box. He was wearing a red leather jacket, and smiled at me through the peephole. I let him in.
"Hello, Charlie, I'm Arthur Dotland." Sounded British, certainly not French.
I replied, "Charlie Baudrillard , enchanté. So, Arthur Dotland? Are you an acquaintance of --"
"--of Emma? Yes, I have met her recently through my younger brother, Ned," replied Arthur.
"Well do come in, especially if you have something good in that bakery box to share," I said, cheerily, curious about what this was all about. "Can I assume you know about the game Emma has set up for me? I was in the middle of it, and then it flashed a message that I should open the door, that you are a friend."
Arthur smiled and replied, "That was a test of executive function. We introduce confusing instructions and see which one you attend to first. You recognized that a triage was necessary, and you committed to your decision. Either decision would have been fine; the point was to see if you are capable of acting promptly when the time comes."
"Acting promptly?" I asked.
"Acting. Taking prompt action. Taking forceful, powerful action to recruit sympathy and support for a collective decision. Rallying people's cooperation or buy-in to a point of view. Using a very complex, recursive mental calculation and other forms of strategic thought in the theaters of your everyday life. The coffee shop. The sidewalk when someone stops to ask you for the time. The crowded subway car. A business meeting you don't really want to be in, but are expected to participate in cheerily. All of our public activities and many of our private activities are informed by some prediction about how you will be perceived . . . or how you even permit yourself to see yourself.
"Don't ever kid yourself into thinking you're not an actor. That was never a question. The question we had was whether you are a prompt actor capable of executing under stress. You passed. You'd be surprised how many people fail that test by doing neither the prompt nor answering the door in the allotted 30 seconds. That's the only way to fail the test, through inaction," Arthur informed me.
"OK, wow, well, I have a lot of questions, like --" I began.
"--I'm sure you do, and we'll answer them all," interrupted Arthur, "but first we need to get you back over to that screen where you will now be able to see the REAL prompt that Emma wants you to use for the WOMBO Dream app prompt. And then I'll need to explain more about what we will do with the resulting images. It's actually going to be a fun game; and I'm excited that I get to participate in this part too. I've actually never played this part of the game."
I walked Arthur over to the screen, which now had a new prompt. I was just as perplexed as I was the first time, but Arthur just looked at the prompt and smiled.
"Well, go on! Enter what it says on the screen," Arthur said, with encouragement.
I looked at the phrase once more, and typed it into the prompt field of the WOMBO Dream app.
January 1st, 2022