Review: “The Wired Man,” David Adam Suski

Pros: The use of social media is potentially fascinating
Cons: Wanted more social media content; things don’t add up
Rating: 2 out of 5

The Wired Man, by David Adam Suski, is about a society in which your social score determines everything–including your eligibility for certain kinds of work. If your social score drops below a certain point, you can lose everything. Your score is dictated by things like who you’re seeing, how successfully you pull off a party, and so on. This ties in to jobs by the fact that companies have scores as well, and those scores are affected by their employees’ scores. Everything is about your connections, and that’s why, when Aaron’s brother supposedly kills his wife, Aaron’s score is tanked as well, causing a ripple effect throughout all of their connections. Aaron, being rather narcissistic in his desire for a higher score, can only think about how much his brother has ruined his life–until things start getting weird.

 

I liked the idea of a dystopian world in which pretty much everything in your life was affected by your social media ‘score’. I thought that could be a good storyline to follow. I wanted to see more of what affects scores, how exactly they affect other aspects of one’s life than just work and dating, etc. We know that relationships alter your score; throwing a really good party alters your score. But we don’t see much of the mechanism through which this occurs. It feels like a fuzzy, nebulous ‘they’ attributing points (maybe a computer algorithm?) which takes the ‘social’ out of one’s social score. I wanted to see the details of how other people affect your score directly–who’s hitting that virtual ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ button and how.

I had trouble understanding how this particular version of the world could have come together. What incentive could have given social media such power? More troubling: how did corporations end up making their hiring and firing decisions based on those scores? Since social media scores come from social activity–which is by and large not job activity–this means companies are incentivizing their employees to NOT work hard or put in long hours. I fail to see how a company could get away with firing potentially their best people based on an irrelevant scoring mechanism. Also, who’s winning in this situation? Someone has to be getting something out of it. Advertisers somehow?

Some of the material was confusing. I had trouble putting together who was being followed by the narrative in several places. I particularly had difficulty following everything going on in the behind-the-scenes meta-plotting regarding how one might disrupt the dystopia. Some of the details didn’t come together well, and I would have liked at least a little bit of an epilogue to what happens.

This is a relatively short tale, but it raises some interesting questions about how much social media controls our lives. I would have liked a tighter narrative along with more depth and believability.

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2 comments on “Review: “The Wired Man,” David Adam Suski
  1. michelel72 says:

    ” I fail to see how a company could get away with firing potentially their best people based on an irrelevant scoring mechanism.”

    That sounds like it could be an extrapolation of people getting fired for making ill-advised comments on social media that then go viral (ref. Jon Ronson’s “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”), maybe. And other companies have gotten goodwill for going viral themselves or for hiring people who have gone viral (like that one homeless man with the majestic voice); so again, if you extrapolate …. but I would think building blocks like that should be evident in the worldbuilding.

    • Heather says:

      Yeah, it was very much set up as a, “fall below this specific number and you get sent below to be a blue collar worker and live in squalor”. This is where he really needed to give a better idea of how social scores work. The only examples we see are a drop due to connections with a murderer, gains due to a great party, and both gains/losses for dating details. Nothing at all went into explaining the mechanism of any of this.

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