DANIEL AYRES

★ ★ ★ ★

FICTION

Image by Ashling McKeever

‘Social Media Si’

“Social Media Si.”

That’s what they call me.

“He’s a nice guy,” they say, “if a little quiet.”

I guess they can’t hear my blood boil over the kettle.

Largely, I’m ignored. Email communication is preferred. They flick titbits at me from across the room, which are beamed briefly into space before appearing on my monitor.

Hey Si,
Could you schedule in our 2 4 1 Chiquita for Senorita’s offer? Give it a catchy catchphrase.

Regards,

Laura

Promotions

Hi Simon,
I attach a few pics from Xmas bash, maybe you share them on social? Show them how super fun we are!
Helga

Accounts

Simon,
We need a blog post on our unpaid internship opportunities. Appreciated if we can have it latest by Friday.

Regards,

Toni

HR

And in amongst the crap? Messages from Mo, my line-manager, one-time restaurant manager and four months my junior.

Si my main man whack up that new prof picture we discussed yeah it’s gonna be a winner
Mo

Line manager 

Yo Si we gotta discuss this months stats bit disappointing IMHO just made us a meeting on google calendar see you then
Mo

Line manager

Si some customers complaining on twitter can you sort it please ain’t good for our rep.
Mo

Line manager

They don’t how each of these, so casually cast, pains my stomach. They don’t really know me at all.

LinkedIn profile:

Simon Parsons is a young creative with a wealth of experience in content creation, data analysis and spearheading original marketing campaigns. A Literature graduate with a penchant for the written word, Simon’s current role as Social Media and Content Editor for a well-known London restaurant chain is indicative of his real achievements and ambition in the realms of digital marketing.  

Fuck a duck, what bullshit. Just the words “young creative” make me sick as a dog. But hey, that’s what we’re supposed to do, isn’t it? Play the game. Live within our labels and try and grow our drip into a splash. And if we succeed in making a ripple, we celebrate with back slapping and boozy Thursday nights.

Social media Si. The go-to guy. The resident creative here to do your bidding. The little PC monkey, who’ll polish your shit, pixelate it and force it down the public’s throat in a post. Never mind that half the time my posts fall flat. Never mind I’m shovelling electric shit on an electric shit heap, and getting paid £10 an hour for the privilege.

@ChiquitaChicken
Feeling chicky? Get down to @ChiquitaChicken for all you can eat BBQ wings. Yeeee haw!

@ChiquitaChicken
Chickened out of going out tonight? It’s never too late to join the party down @ChiquitaChicken no siiiree
 

Never mind the bollocks, here’s what they call “on brand”.

Social media Si. They gave me an iPhone 5. S. Fuck yes, the fucking 5S. Now I can access tits in a blink. I can stare into the asshole of a Taiwanese hooker and it still looks like I’m getting shit done. BOOM. POW. There goes my mind. There goes the way I used to think. WHAM. BAM. A weapon in my hand. A revolver to fragment my attention span. CLICK. LIKE. LOAD. POST. Feel it buzz baby. Fuck. Doesn’t it feel great?

I am here to dance, with my opposable thumbs, over Tweets and twats, Instagrammable donuts and Snapchat champions, all the while facing a barrage of bad news and inconsequential crap.  Even the bloody BBC expects me to process a dead boy on the beach and the controversial colour of a viral dress in the same blink. Is it blue? Is it gold? Will Aleppo fall? Will civilisation survive another day? And then they act surprised when our generation grows sick.

But who could know that today was to be the day it changes? It starts the same as always. Another day, another £56 after taxes. Another morning meeting. More relentless fuckery. More action points and cups of tea. Till Tiff from PR turns to me, pouts her trout lips and gives her extensions a shake. My heart beats faster. It’s preemptive. It’s involuntary.

“Si,” she says, “we think you’re doing great, but the stats aren’t quite where we’d like them to be. We’ve had word from senior management. They want 200,000 followers by the end of the year. Try everything. If Nandos can do it, why can’t we?” She looks to line-manager Mo and winks. He smiles his smarmy Christmas party smile.

I smile too, and nod, and die a little more inside. Till fast as bird flu something new flares up inside me, and suddenly it all just clicks into place. The perfect plan, clear as a screenshot. Now I’m really smiling.

“Darling”, I think, as chairs scrape and dreams are swallowed on down, “I’ll give you a million by the end of the day.”

So now I’ve gone and loaded different bullets. Not shallow chicken shit this time, not today. Today, I’ll make things manifest. I see line manager Mo through the glass screen. His goatee just so, his casual, cock-forward lean on the water cooler perfected, as he breathes Wrigleys extra over another underage Chiquita chicken flinger. My crosshair swings in from the side of my vision and settles on him. LOCK and LOAD.

My first bullet goes. I’m shitting myself but fuck does this feel good.

@ChiquitaChicken 1 April 10.am
Bomb scare at our TrafalgarSq branch restaurant

BANG

Nothing happens, until, sure as salmonella, I hear a hubbub rise from the restaurant below. BOOM. POW. I’m out the door and up the stairs, past other offices filled with screen-washed zombies. It’s all I can do to stop myself blowing them a kiss through the window. Today, I’ll give their little lives a thrill.

@ChiquitaChicken April 1 10.01am
A suspicious package has been found in our Westminster branch nr Trafalgar SQ. We urge all customers to keep calm and stay where you are

LOL. BANG. The iPhone’s in my hand. Fully charged. Now I’m out on the roof, grey skies above me, eyes over the city. And I can feel it buzzing, retweet after retweet, notifications flooding in. I point my 5s at a helicopter.

Tweet. BANG

@ChiquitaChicken April 1st 10.02am
Smoke seen coming from the drain outside the restaurant. @WestministerPolice have been contacted. Stay tuned for more.
 

I feel the city spin toward me. I look down and feel dizzy. Security’s at the doors. I’ve created a commotion.

@BBCnewsLondon April 1 10.04am
BREAKING – Potential terrorist situation unfolding @CHIQUITACHICKEN. Restaurant in lockdown. More to come.
 

Retweet that shit. BANG. Thanks Beebs. Now they’re handing me the bullets. I’m ecstatic. The street fills with sirens. I’m twenty floors up and looking at the skyline. Now I’m big as one of them towers.

Snap. BANG. Instagram.

Chiquita Chicken – View from roof of our popular #ChiquitaChicken restaurant near #TrafalgarSquare as police arrive to investigate reports of bomb scare #staycalmlondon

WOO. Fuck. Look at what I made. Those flashing blue lights are mine. Those brains, those bodies. I brought them here myself. Next step. WhatsApp.

Mo mate Im on the roof and totally freaked out I need your help please come
10.11AM

Two ticks. Typing.

Bruv what game you playing. Chill OK. Stay there, Im coming.
10.12AM

The pieces fall into place. He’ll be halfway up the stairs when I fire my golden bullet. I snatched a shifty looking pic from his Facebook. Information is easy, these days. Nothing is sacred.

@ChiquitaChicken April 1 10.13am
Restaurant line manager Mohammad Amin responsible for planting potential bomb in our restaurant. Highly dangerous.
 

I feel the air hum and whirl above me. My helicopter’s coming down. How fast the world spins round. If only we could slow it down.

I’m stood at the edge of the roof. Fuck is it far to fall. I’m centre stage above a sea of smart phones. FLASH. Quick. Take it in, take your pic. I’m yours for the taking London.

The air whirls faster. Across the rooftop, I see the door fling open. My final bullet is primed and ready. No time to go back. Just hold it steady. I press, and release.

BANG

@ChiquitaChicken April 1 10.15AM
Look up

Dan Ayres is a British writer inexplicably born in Uganda, reared in England’s Westcountry and now merrily based in Berlin. A lover of all things surreal and fantastical, Dan is increasingly drawn to writing stories and poetry that wrestle with the momentous impact social media and technology is having upon our day to day lives. He also likes stories with cats in them. You can check out some more of his words here: https://medium.com/@danielayres