You were born behind leaded glass. The clicked on the camcorder for the Birth Event. A full record was made for posterity. They raised you in front of blue-glowing big-screens, watching from behind two-way mirrors. Sometimes you would press your face up to the glass, and try to talk to the people on the other side.

"Don't look at us," the voice filtered through the crackling loudspeaker ordered, "look at the people on the screen. They are your family, and you must love them."

So you did. Who was on the screen changed sometimes, but even with different faces, they were never different people. They never told you who to love, but you came to know them all so well, that eventually how could you not love them, not love your family?

One day the screen turned off in the middle of the morning, and a new voice came on the loudspeaker. "It's time for you to go to school. Go, learn, meet your new friends." And so you rode the bus to school, huddled in your seat, staring out the window, because the landscape you saw through the glass was more real than the other children on the bus.

At school, they took you by the hand, led you to the classroom, introduced you to teacher and the other children, all of whom you must love like the people on the screens. But how could you? If they were real, why was there no wall of glass between them and you? And so when the day ended, and the bus took you home, you sat in front of the big-screen, happy to be back with your family, and rocked back and forth in your seat quietly, until their cheery voices lulled you to sleep.

Then one day, in school, they showed you a new kind of screen, one that you could control with the keyboard in front of it. For the first time, you could talk to your family, it was almost like being real, like being on the other side of the glass. Almost, not quite, but so much closer. They told you, "This is your world, and by controlling the computer, you control your world. Learn to love it, love it like your family."

One day you figured out that the people you could talk to on the computer were other people at other computers. You felt so cheated, when you realized your friends weren't real. But still, they were better than the children at the school, the ones with no glass between you and them, the awful ones that you could never understand. Luckily, they were spending more time at their computers too, so you had to talk to them less often.

When you got out of school, you and your friends celebrated with 24 hours straight of video games, with nothing but caffeine pills and the joy of newfound freedom to keep you going. At college, everything was better, you hardly had to deal with other people at all without the computer. Once, by accident, you realized that one of your friends went to the same college as you, and you both felt vaguely ashamed and never mentioned it again. You always wondered, though, whenever you saw a random passerby, if maybe it was him, and eventually the two of you talked less and less.

Sometimes, while masturbating automatically to JPEG porn, you wondered if you should try to find somebody to fuck in the flesh, but you felt ashamed of that too, and went back to your JPEGs. Sometimes, the feeling you got when looking at girls you went to class with was a little like the feeling you got from the porn, but infinitely more abstracted and less real. The next time they came for a semen sample, you checked the box for "No Sexual Contact", same as always, and felt glad you weren't a pervert, felt glad you weren't a woman, who would have to deal with the ultimate violation that was birth. At least they had the tapes to make it real.

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