Abby chewed her lip, pen poised above the application forms. “Luke, do you honestly think we can do this?” she whispered to her husband.
Luke’s gaze traveled around the room. “We’re as capable as anyone else here. Remember the fifty thousand dollars apiece and being on television. That’s enough to motivate anybody.”
Abby sighed and finished her application. Five minutes later two men entered the room. One collected the applications, the other addressed the group. Beaming, he said, “Hi, I’m Ross. We’ll be reviewing applications and five couples will be chosen for our reality show, Digitally Devoid. Before filming, those couples will spend time in a clinic to prepare for six weeks without any digital devices. Any questions?”
“Yeah,” said a man with thick glasses. “Nothing was said earlier about time in a clinic. Is it detox or something?”
There was a ripple of laughter. Another hand went up. This time it was a young beauty who’d been smacking gum and staring at her manicured nails. “Uh, like, when you say devoid, that doesn’t include cell phones, does it?”
Another ripple of laughter. “Especially cell phones,” Ross answered. “It’s reality television. America will be watching to see how five couples survive without any digital or technical devices. The couple who does the best, is the most creative, will receive an additional hundred thousand dollars.”
The room exploded with cheers, and clapping.
“Hey,” someone hollered. Definitely a techie nerd, Abby thought as Ross motioned to the young man to speak.
“Why this detox clinic or whatever it’s called? I understood we were doing this cold-turkey, no preparations. If we detox first, how’s that cold-turkey?”
“Well, now folks, just how real is reality television?” Ross smirked and everyone responded with snickering. “We’ll determine who among you is best suited for this. We want our show to be successful, don’t we? Of course, there’ll be some failures, some screw-ups with our couples. That’ll make it exciting and keep the ratings up.”
“So,” techie nerd continued, “this clinic won’t really be a detox?”
“Oh, I assure you, it’ll definitely be a digital detox. You’d be surprised at how some people can become mentally unhinged without their techie devices. We don’t mind hilarious stupidity, in fact, we encourage some of that, but we certainly don’t want anyone becoming psycho on us. Any more questions?”
“Will contestants stay in a setting free from modern technology like survival shows where people are out in the middle of nowhere?” It was Mr. Thick Glasses again.
Ross cocked his eyebrows. “Of course not. Whatever your normal days consist of, that’s what you’ll be doing – going to work, attending college, stay-at-home moms. What would be the challenge if you were placed somewhere without the ability to cheat?”
“What does that mean if we go to work? There’ll be phones, computers, televisions. We can cheat all we want then,” Luke said.
“You’ll be closely monitored on your jobs. If you try anything that isn’t job related, we’ll know. That means no personal calls, no tweeting, no checking Facebook status, no googling to find out what’s trending, none of that. If you cheat, we’ll know. We have our ways. And, we’ve discussed eliminating contestants who repeatedly and blatantly cheat. It’ll spice up the program.”
“When will know if we’ve been chosen?” Luke asked.
“Within a week,” Ross replied. “Now, let’s wrap this up, okay? You’re all dismissed.”
Abby grabbed Luke’s hand as the shuffling of bodies pushed towards the exit. “Do you still think we can do this, Luke?”
Luke grinned. “For a total of two hundred thousand dollars if we win, you bet we can.”
“But, I have a class thesis due in six weeks. I need my laptop and access to the internet. And my sister’s baby is due in a month. I need my phone.”
“Go to the library. Use books. Megan can send you an announcement in the mail. We can do this, Abby. We’ll be able to pay off student loans, maybe buy a house.”
Abby almost hoped they wouldn’t be chosen, but within the week, they received notification that they were. They didn’t win the extra hundred thousand. However, America fell in love with the cute couple, and they appeared on several talk and late night shows afterwards, earning more money.
During the program, Abby discovered they talked more to each other and other people without the distractions of technical devices. But, they were both happy to have “Digitally Devoid” over, and life back to normal.
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