Justice in the Age of Bubble Living

“You have never known vulnerability,” boomed the judge, enjoying the echo of her voice. “You have lived a life eased by your looks, and taken it for granted that you could have whatever you want. You have never worked, simply charmed your way to an easy life. And then when faced with an item you couldn’t have, a car you didn’t need but wanted, and that the owner wouldn’t just give you, you stole it!” The guilty man with the dimpled smile looked at her quizzically and then his eyes twinkled as he tilted his head. The judge’s heart hardened, she hated it when people tried to manipulate her.

“So your punishment is to know vulnerability. To lose your ticket to the easy life. To learn what it is to struggle and be rejected. You shall spend the next five years…ugly!”

She enjoyed the horror on his face, the struggle as he was dragged away, protesting and sobbing. The programmers could work out the details: a few warts, a wonky nose, hair in all the wrong places. Judging was so much more fun in these days of virtual reality.

29 thoughts on “Justice in the Age of Bubble Living

    1. You’ve been sentenced to write!? That sounds ace, we need more writing prisons, where all the cons are locked up for 23 hours a day with a typewriter (no fancy computers or internet, obviously) and you can’t leave until you’ve completely an 80,000 word novel. 😉

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  1. This is awesome. I love the concept of using virtual reality as a way to punish someone who thinks because they’re good looking they’re above the law. I love the judge’s attitude too. 😀

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  2. Haha! Just imagine…. i swear there are so many people who really do rely upon their cuteness to get away with all sorts of things. And suckers let them…it’s crap that we can treat people so differently based upon their appearance. I think i was duped by many a bedimpled human in my younger days. Hopefully i’m not quite so naive now! Anyhoo, Mr. Dimples has grinned his last cheeky grin!

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      1. Very wise! People can be manipulative. It’s good to recognise the tricks they employ! I do want to see the best in people, but i feel this can still result in me being too trusting sometimes… only to a point, though. I’ve learnt some harsh lessons there, so there are stricter limits to what i’ll put up with now!

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      2. It’s a tricky one, trust is a good quality to have, but it’s true you have to be selective with it. Look after yerself, and have a beautiful day! 🙂

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  3. Love it. It is like an modern fairy tale where the so called “Prince” is turned into a frog but in this case he deserves the punishment given by a good fairy.

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      1. Hm, now the wheels in my brain are whirling. Being a literal “beauty” judge in doling out beauty to those who deserve it and taking it away from those who don’t. Then someone steals beauty or is “cursed” with ugliness so the population thinks their nature is the opposite of what it is hmmmm.

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      2. Really interesting brain whirls! Beauty (or lack of it) has such a massive effect on how people treat us, and how we see ourselves. I wonder how someone made beautiful because they deserved it, would change – would they stay a good person, or would the sudden recognition and adoration go to their head?

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      3. I remember years ago I thought up this idea that I called the Aesthetic Fallacy, though I really didn’t make it up; it’s pretty common, but it’s that any character that’s perceived as beautiful will automatically become sympathetic no matter what role they’re playing in a narrative. It is so ingrained in nearly every culture to value good looks above nearly everything else.

        That is a really good question. I think initially, you’d be so stunned to be receiving positive attention for your looks you’d be appreciative and humbled. After that…I suppose it would depend on the person.

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      4. Aesthetic fallacy sounds like a good trick to play with in a plot.
        And yes, you’re right, humans are very varied. I think if it happened to me I’d not want to abuse it, but I’d probably take it for granted quite quickly.
        It’s a strange one to talk about because like you say it’s so ingrained and important, but no one wants to acknowledge that prejudice.

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  4. So much here! Unusual beauty is — as you describe — a burden. Extremely attractive people may be misled by the ease with which life seems to organize itself – a string of green lights; downwind; downhill. ‘Unearned’ bounty erodes the beneficiary’s perspective and atrophies muscle. Like the predator raised in captivity, they lack the full array of strengths needed by those of average endowment. Also, they can be driven by a graceless compulsion to retain their defining attribute.

    Plus, in a petty obverse of your ‘aesthetic fallacy’, the jealous average world ascribes attendant weakness: beauties are vapid; geniuses are cold; the rich are vain and mendacious.

    The sign of an exceptional short piece is that it leaves readers pondering. Well done!


    1. And what a poetic ponder it was! I agree on the idea of atrophy due to an easy life, we need difficulties to give us strength – but there are a wide array of difficulties that can snag us – we all have aspects of life that are easy, as well as some that are tough. Really we’re all just muddling through best we can, right?

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