Aaron Gordon was taking part in a summer practice with his teammates, and, on the surface, everything appeared to be fine. However, Aaron’s mind was in another place entirely, and it was not a good place. He ran, dunked, and looked engaged, but only did these things because he knew there were members of the Magic front office observing them.
After a number of three-on-three runs, it was finally time for a break. Aaron retreated to the bleachers with the rest of his teammates. He mindlessly chugged a Gatorade, consumed by his own thoughts, but when Jonathan Isaac got out his laptop and began working on it, something was triggered in Aaron’s mind.
Scooting over to his younger teammate, Aaron peered at the laptop’s screen. “Yo Jonathan, you’re good at computers, right?” He had never seen any of his teammates using a computer before; they all used their phones for everything.
Jonathan shrugged. “I mean, I can use a computer, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“So you can definitely help me hack the internet to make it say whatever I want,” Aaron continued, getting excited and talking slightly too loud as a result.
Jonathan sighed. “First of all, the internet is not a single thing that you can hack. It’s a network of individual servers configured to serve content over HTTP. Second of all, why on earth would I want to help you spread whatever stupid propaganda you’ve got in your head all over the internet?”
“I won that dunk contest,” Aaron growled, revealing what had been on his mind. “The world needs to know. If you’re not going to help me hack those servos or whatever they’re called, I’ll just do it myself.” He reached out to grab the laptop from Jonathan, but it was pulled away from him.
“How about I just edit some Wikipedia pages for you,” Jonathan offered, hunched over his laptop and facing away from Aaron to make sure there wasn’t another attempt to take it from him. “A lot of people are reliant on Wikipedia for facts about the world.”
“Make it say that I won the 2016 dunk contest and that Zach LaVine failed to complete a single dunk and was laughed out of the arena by the fans,” Aaron said. “And then hack Google so that when you search for pictures of him, you just get pictures of me holding the trophy.”
Jonathan sighed again. “I’ll do the first part, but the more outlandish your claims get, the more likely that the edits will be reverted.” Aaron nodded, happy that Jonathan was willing to oblige, even though Aaron barely understood what his teammate was talking about. Jonathan continued, “Your second request is totally unreasonable though. Nobody can hack Google. Nobody. And, as far as I know, there are no extant pictures of you holding the 2016 dunk contest trophy, so the point is moot anyway.”
“I thought you computer nerds knew how to use Photoshop,” Aaron responded, annoyed that his attempts to rewrite dunk contest history were repeatedly getting obstructed by his teammate. “I guess I was wrong.”
“You were,” Jonathan replied shortly. “Watch who you’re calling a nerd though. Remember, I’m the one helping you out here.”
“But I won the dunk contest,” Aaron pointed out, as if restating his position would make Jonathan more likely to develop a willingness to use Photoshop to hack Google. “You saw it. You know I won. My dunks were way better”
“Yeah, you should have won for sure,” Jonathan replied as he typed on his keyboard. “There. Now your Wikipedia page lists among your accolades ‘2016 Dunk Contest Champion’. I just have to do Zach’s page, the page for the contest itself, and the page for that year’s All-Star weekend, and we should be good. If we’re lucky, Google will index the false information and your name will start coming up when people search for the winner of that year’s contest.”
This last statement confused Aaron tremendously. “I thought you said Google was unhackable.”
“It is, but it can be tricked by false information placed on websites that its algorithms deem to be trustworthy,” Jonathan answered, already at work editing Zach LaVine’s page to redact the information about his dunk contest victory. “That’s what happens when algorithms replace human curation. The search results become vulnerable to tampering.”
Aaron tried to make sense of this information, but couldn’t. His previous notion that the internet was just a huge, authoritative, hackable database of the world’s information was getting challenged. Suddenly, a new, more feasible plan came to him. “Yo, type in ‘plane tickets Chicago’ for me, I got another idea.”
Jonathan slammed his laptop shut and put it back in his bag. “How about you do it on your phone and leave me out of it.”
“Jeez, no need to get so bitchy,” Aaron said. He pulled out his phone and began doing the search for tickets. Maybe he couldn’t hack the internet, but he could definitely visit Zach in person and trick him into signing some sort of contract that legally made Aaron the dunk contest winner. Then, history would finally reflect reality.