Standing before the orb – the cold, impersonal device that scans irises – I felt as though I was surrendering a piece of my soul to Worldcoin. Doubts gnawed at me… I felt demeaned but focused on the overpowering truth: my dire need for money.
MALVINAS, Argentina — On a chilly morning, I took a packed train, its rhythmic clatter echoing for an hour, then walked more than two kilometers to reach the Worldcoin scanning center. A two-hundred-meter-long line around the building awaited, filled with people of all ages and backgrounds. Varied tunes from different countries permeated the air. Some people, still in their work uniforms, looked weary but determined. Our profound need for money united us.
[Worldcoin is an ambitious new company which awards vouchers through cryptocurrency via an app. The awards require users to verify their identity by scanning their irises into a Worldcoin “orb.” Millions of people have done it, many of whom come from impoverished communities in Latin America.]
As a kid enthralled by the digital universe, I found my bliss in circuit boards and computer screens. Armed with YouTube tutorials and relentless curiosity, I built my computer, piece by piece. I was a self-taught engineer long before setting foot in a college classroom.
Then came a jarring interruption. One evening, my dad walked in, his usually buoyant face clouded with worry. “I’ll be unemployed starting next month,” he announced, his words landing like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, the soldering iron and circuit boards felt trivial.
Faced with this stark reality, my youthful pursuits paled in significance. “It’s time for me to contribute,” I realized, feeling the weight of adulthood settling in. This was no longer just about my dreams; it was about keeping my family afloat in uncharted waters.
Ever since childhood, video games and computers served as my sanctuary. I dedicated endless hours tinkering with hardware, enamored by the unique role each piece played. Naturally, I chose to study Systems Engineering after high school, taking my first stride toward a dream career that promised pure joy.
When my path took an unexpected turn, I searched relentlessly for a job for nearly a year before securing a part-time position. The sole bright spot in this challenging journey was that it allowed me to continue my studies a little longer before fully stepping away from academia.
Living with Type 1 Diabetes added another layer of complexity to our already precarious situation. My mom’s near-constant anxiety over my condition clashed with my resentment of being prioritized over my parents. Sometimes, we only had maté and cookies to curb our hunger.
My dad’s face haunts me to this day, but it also serves as a driving force. His setback pushed me to work harder and to be better. Now, my main focus is contributing to my family’s well-being. The stakes have never been higher, but neither has my determination.
Our finances dwindled to the point where we had to cut the cable, our last vestige of simple home entertainment. A cocktail of sadness and rage surged within me at the sight of my parents’ struggle. It’s incomprehensible how someone can toil their entire life only to be discarded like yesterday’s news, left without even the small comfort of watching TV because it’s unaffordable.
However, life took a turn when my workplace offered me a full-time position. I had to pause my education, but I greeted it as a breakthrough, knowing I could now fill our dinner table. My mom made me promise to return to school eventually, a promise I fully intend to keep. For now, though, adaptation is my mantra. As I commute to work each weary morning, a searing anger courses through me. I feel as though someone or something robbed me of my future.
Despite our best efforts, our financial difficulties persist. My dad has been unemployed for two years, and my mom takes occasional, on-demand jobs. So, when whispers of “easy money” arrived as Worldcoin’s name appeared on my social networks, it sparked my curiosity. In Argentina, every financial opportunity is worth investigating and I couldn’t ignore the siren call.
As I stood in line to be scanned by Worldcoin, I remained skeptical the entire time. During the more than half an hour I spent in line, I pondered why I was exposing myself this way. The faces around me appeared filled with hope and desperation, a mirror to my own emotions. Uncertainty and questions lingered as the line slowly moved forward.
Standing before the orb – the cold, impersonal device that scans irises – I felt as though I was surrendering a piece of my soul to Worldcoin. Doubts gnawed at me, but my rationale reminded me this was no different from my digital trials on social media. I felt demeaned but focused on the overpowering truth: my dire need for money. Every time I had a doubt, that answer returned.
Since I got scanned, I am stuck with a partial balance in the Worldcoin app, which the system will not let me withdraw. Each day, I watch as the cryptocurrency’s value dwindles, diminishing the worth of the personal data I provided. Feeling deceived, I have written it off as a loss. I consented to share my information and even allowed an iris scan, all based on a grand promise that meant nothing. The experience left me utterly frustrated.
All of this has left me feeling a desperate need for a change in politics. As a young adult, my focus should be on education and building a future, not selling my personal data for a quick meal. I should be studying, not engaging in an economy that forces me into such decisions. I feel as though our leaders lie to us and lead us down a path of broken promises.
In a developed country, this situation would likely never occur. Even though the Worldcoin app still holds some of my balance, I managed to withdraw and convert 60 dollars in cryptocurrency. While some might consider this a trivial amount, it served as a lifeline for me. I converted it into Argentine pesos and bought food that lasted me two days. This money did more than fill my wallet; it offered me a brief respite in my constant battle for survival. However, the reality of what it represented – a system that failed me and countless others – remains palpable.
Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.
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