Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hacking into Society's Code

Clliff was one of my favorite characters. I like the idea of a computer genius who is also interested in how to hack into society. I also gave him a dark past so his rational methods are not always enough to save him from himself. When we meet him, he says that his major, computers fit in really well with sociology:

“Don’t worry about her. It’s my first year as an RA. I’m a sophomore. I didn’t get too involved in stuff last year, so I really want to be a part of the school system this year. Plus, it’s free food and board. That’s probably the best reason why I’m doing it. The only thing is that I have to act like I was born to be an RA to get in. There’s a system to everything.”
“You think?”
“Take that from a sociology minor. It’s okay to act like a stingy, old RA around people like Carmen; just don’t lose your individuality.”
“I hate to break it to you, but I think that’s how she really is.” JC smiled. “What’s your major?”

“Computers. They fit in really well with sociology,” Cliff responded as he turned the corner. JC was stimulated by the articulation and quickness of Cliff’s voice. He thought that Cliff could talk forever, and it would seem like no time went by at all. As he spoke, his eyes would flutter, as if the wheels in his head were constantly turning, then he’d spurt out his ideas without delay as his brain thought of them. When he stopped talking, his eyes would rest on JC, as still as untouched water. “Computers are the great manipulators of the day. You can use them to infiltrate any system. You can learn a lot if you analyze the programming of coding and decoding. It’s sociology in the making. Society’s just one big computer.”

I like to think of Cliff as the Ian Malcolm of my story. Ian Malcolm was the mathematician in the book, "Jurassic Park," who often rambled on about the problems with with using the power of science without considering the ethics of one's motivations.
Being one of the ex cult members and a bit of a quirky genius has given Cliff the ability to see what is going on in a very objective light. This is refreshing because as the reader gets sucked into the cult, the same ways the characters are, Cliff gives the reader a chance to put their reactions into perspective. When he meets JC and tells him his theories, it provide foreshadowing for what is to come:

“So what does computer programming have to do with society? You mentioned something about it when we met, something about decoding . . .”
“Society is just a computer program. We’re taught this language, and it permeates everything in our lives. It influences our culture, morals, what we think is or isn’t important. Bring in another language, and we have to change everything we’ve been brought up to believe. Think about it—why do you think it’s so difficult to learn a foreign language after the age of ten? There’s just too much deprogramming that goes with taking in a whole new culture. If you hack into a computer program, you’ve got to know its language. Then you manipulate it. You use that language to convince the program that everything is normal, but really, you are controlling it. That’s what our media, advertisers, and politicians do. They use code words that are found in our language to hack into our minds and control us. They’re like passwords.”
“So how do you stop them from controlling us?”
“Antivirus.” JC giggled at this and Cliff noticed his reaction. He smiled and continued. “Let me explain. There are certain words or phrases that rile up emotions in you. They stand for things that you believe very strongly in like ‘patriotism.’ ‘God’ is a big one; so are ‘power’ and ‘money.’ When you hear these words, don’t let them bother you. Turn on your antivirus. Take the word out of its context. Listen to what is being said without the word being spoken. If it doesn’t make sense, then you know it’s a bug. I say, even if it does make sense, further investigation is required. See, most people only hear the key words and not the context because our emotional reaction to these words overrides our intellect.”
JC nodded. He noted the word “God.” Oh, how that word riled up Maggi the night they were in the cave. It made her angry, but JC still couldn’t understand how John could have controlled her by making her angry at him. Yet he knew that hatred was a powerful thing, and Maggi wasn’t the same after that. But if she decided that she hated John Cronus too much to ever listen to him again, how could he possibly control her? He felt that Cliff still had a lot of revising to do with his thesis. He thought of mentioning the situation to him, but decided against it. He would rather keep the subject away from such examples that were too close to home. He preferred sticking to the abstract, to the art of hacking, and the rules of the stars.


  1. I loved Cliff.. so you know the part that happened hurt when it occurred but understood it. Trying to be vague to not spoil! But i loved the two of them together

  2. Thanks Amber, yeah me too! Love them together. ;)