"Ether" by Zhang Ran, translated by Carmen Yiling Yan and Ken Liu. First English publication in Clarkesworld Magazine, January 2015.
Description, by Lois Tilton [Locus]: "The narrator lives in a dystopian near-future when everyone seems to be concerned solely with banalities. He is one of the few people who seem to recall how things used to be and to be aware of this phenomenon or bothered by it until he encounters a protest demonstration; as the protesters flee, one of them grabs his hand and spells a word into it. This chance encounter leads to a life-changing experience. At its heart, this story is about a man reclaiming the independent spirit of his youth, the young man who said, “Fuck you” to his brutal, oppressive father but has now fallen into a life-rut with no real friends. But this is also a political story, as we discover when we learn the reason the protesters have resorted to the finger-talking as a way of evading ubiquitous surveillance."