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Social Psychology: reading creative fiction; The Projectionist 9


Read the passage, then answer the practice question.

The Projectionist

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  1. To the noble and valiant citizens of Pacifica, I come to you with an urgent message. By the time this transmission broadcasts on your wrist screens, I will already be several hundred
    away from our fine republic, having escaped aboard a container ship after midnight. The thought of all of my friends, family, and neighbors learning the unvarnished truth of your situation will quell any discomforts brought on by the rough seas and cramped quarters, as well as my nagging guilt.
  2. Most of you know me as Pacifica’s chief projectionist, tasked with transmitting the hourly platitudes of our noble leader Margot Atwell. But all along, I have been propagating a great lie, and now I can no longer abide this existence. Please hold on, this will not be easy to take: you see, Leader Atwell is nothing but a fabrication, a technologically sophisticated puppet, if you will.
  3. I assure you; this is no crackpot conspiracy theory. You might initially dismiss my claim as conjecture. But I beg you to accept my words as patently true. I am Atwell’s creator. She is a hologram, never having walked this planet as a flesh and blood human.
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  1. As if you could forget, I’ll remind you of the time, five years ago, when Atwell emerged. Pacifica was literally in ashes, after years of political upheaval, civil war, and the restriction of information. Respectful discourse was all but impossible. Suspicion had replaced trust. Confusion was the order of the day. We needed to be healed so desperately, but no one knew how to do it. That’s when I decided to take the wheel.
  2. My aim was to design the perfect figurehead: a fair and moral voice, a benevolent yet decisive authoritarian. Someone had to lead us if we couldn’t do it ourselves. Having sole access to Pacifica’s archives from the years 1930 to 2100, I pored over government transcripts and watched endless hours of historical footage. I compiled a list of the physical and psychological qualities of the most charismatic leaders throughout history. I embedded all that I learned in Atwell's artificial visage, so that she could help stitch together our fractured state. I unveiled her when crimes were especially rampant, when people rarely left their homes. You only had to hear Atwell explain that it was too dangerous to appear publicly, and you accepted her willingly. Then life settled, Pacifica grew prosperous, and everyone forgot to ask questions.
  3. On so many occasions, my creation weighed on my conscience, and I set to undo the deception. Then I’d remember the days of turmoil, and stop myself. But while that instinct was well-intentioned, I’ve now reached the point where I cannot continue this campaign of propaganda. As Gandhi once said, “Morality is the basis of things, and truth is the substance of all morality.”
  4. You have the capacity to understand these words. See, I made Atwell preach to you that humans are better together than alone and you all agreed by rebuilding together peacefully. I was the one who programmed Atwell to instruct you on nonviolent communication, but you’re the ones who recognized its effectiveness and committed to the practice. Even though Atwell will no longer be appearing, you now know these ways are still possible.
  5. In the event that Pacifica struggles to find direction again, I have left a parting gift—a token of my remorse. As of this moment, the archives are unrestricted and free to use by any citizen, forevermore. If needed, remind yourselves of what has strengthened Pacifica throughout history and what has degraded it.
    In truth and freedom,
    Serena Magnus, Chief Projectionist, Republic of Pacifica

Practice question

Read this sentence.
“By the time this transmission broadcasts on your wrist screens, I will already be several hundred klicks away from our fine republic, having escaped aboard a container ship after midnight.”
What impact does starting the passage with this information have on the reader?
Choose 1 answer: