The day that the United Nations decreed that the entire globe should have free access to the internet was touted as the finest achievement in history. Low-cost computing machines were delivered to villages and towns alike. The world rejoiced at the benefits of the Information Superhighway, but there were indisputable changes.
The differences were menial at first. Global social networking took the human race by storm, leading them to reveal things one couldn’t even tell the person they were sitting next to at work. Screen names became popular brands, with certain individuals quickly climbing the ranks of popularity. Every word was admired. Every link shared, enjoyed. Private videos of family outings were placed on public display in hopes that the number of views would exceed that of their neighbors.
The evening newspaper was the first victim of the New World, falling victim to the constant demand for news now, an impossible feat for a simple physical publication to fulfill. Television news felt the pressure next, and eventually armed their TV journalists with 24-7 webcams, issuing instructions to travel constantly, and switch off when sleep came. Prime-time television gave way to recordable programming, instant and on-demand to feed the hungering masses that desired a virtual library at their fingertips.
No longer were there longing glances, walks in the sunset, or just holding hands. Fathers no longer tinkered with the family car on Sunday, and moms no longer baked cookies. Lawns stood weeded and tall-grassed. No one stopped to glance at his or her watch, pause at a pay phone, or engage in idle conversation on the bus. Libraries and museums lost their funding and closed to the public. The theaters stood dormant and dusty, their props ghostly shapes in the gathering gloom of the empty stage.
Artificial insemination was the norm, convenient and sterile, for those who even desired the necessary distraction of reproduction. Increasing numbers of senior citizens roamed the streets in roving gangs, angry and senile, rabid and strong. Board games were discontinued. Music stores trapped in brick and mortar shut their doors for the last time. Book stores stood endangered, yet the publishing industry was voracious and growing, accepting anything with less than fifteen grammatical errors under the assumption that someone would buy it. Someone would understand it.
Eventually, they didn't need portable computers and desktop machines. The human brain was capable of receiving the necessary signal to assault their entire waking consciousness upon the online world. Soon after, dream records were broadcast at one's discretionary whim, after a group of dedicated individuals weeded out the more-explicit scenes.
Schools and universities were closed. Playgrounds and courtyards overgrew with vines and invited wild animals.
Electric vehicles replaced cars, but no one had the need to leave their homes. Work was done with an ordinary thought, education was acquirable by anyone with a lucid, dreaming mind, and wares were available at the blink of an eye at check out.
The remaining youth population no longer cruised the streets or hung out at the mall, and if they were actually seen outside their homes, were consistently sending texts and video messages to their hundreds of virtual friends to document their journey. Years went by. The population continued to age. Children forgot what was in them to grow into adults and find love. Sentiments were words. Words were text. Text was safe.
A Presidential decree went out. Bonuses were offered to bio forms reproducing and creating young to further sustain the species. Her words were lost between a mind-video of a kid dancing to the latest hit “Ina-Gadda-da-blah-blah,” and a LOLcat doing the impression of INVIZIBUL FELLASHEO.
Those That Did Not Have Internet erected billboards to drum up support in returning to the roots of human socialization, i.e., face-to-face. The majority of the species continued to ignore and even embrace the warning signs.
It would take thousands of years, they said. Nothing for them to worry about. But smoking and drinking interrupted brain waves and broke up the constant feed, and health improved. The Wii Fit was incomparable to any other form of fitness and lack of interest in fattening foods, such as McDonald's, or Hula Hut caused the weight/height ratio to drop significantly.
A species of long-living, slender and pale beings. Always connected. Always sharing. A perfect world.
One ripe for the picking, the sentient being thought as it opened a cyclopean eye to the blue-green jewel draped on the universal fabric. In the Great Disconnect, the humans felt no pain, only the soft intrusion of darkness as their minds slept alone for the first time in better than two hundred years.
Oh, oh. I feel that I must give up Twitter before it's too late!
A dystopia that is scary because it's not improbable!
Many lovely lines here. Also funny ones. The kid dancing and the LOLcat made me laugh out loud!
And "blue green jewel draped on the universal fabric" was wonderful.
I'm sure I've seen that LOLcat!
I love the thought of everyone getting thin instead of fat from being online all the time (surely McDonalds would have capitalised on online ordering and delivery - by robots, probably - though?!)
An excellent dystopic start to the day, thank you!
I loved the way you built this up from a single, mostly conceivable and very human act into a supra-human narrative that looked on as and inwardly sentient humankind fell prey to external, unnamed forces. Beautiful.
I especially loved this line: "Increasing numbers of senior citizens roamed the streets in roving gangs, angry and senile, rabid and strong." Oh yeah!
Both present and prescient. Truly a full palette.
Excellent and chilling.
Prescient, indeed! I loved the 'senior citizens roamed the streets in roving gangs'. Frightening in its plausibility. Great story, as always.
Creepy. I love it. Just wait until the Morlocks show up...oh, wait, the roving gangs of senior citizens evolve INTO the Morlocks.
They had to be eaten to go offline. What a concept.
Chilling indeed, because it is a possibility, even a probability if we don't Do Something Now.
Beautifully written Carrie.
Wow, very cool. We could very well be looking at one of our possible futures here.
Nope. No way I will ever live in a wold without cookies!
Holy crap! This gave me chills. Seriously! PHENOMINAL!!!
And who said they won't live in a world without cookies? I like you! You can be my friend. *gets back to the oven to bake more cookies.*
I love your take on this. Very Bradbury with more doom and gloom.
Nothing can ever replace the human touch.
Great write, Carrie.
Dan beat us to it, enter stage right the morlocks.
Really liked this and kudos on the old people line
Carrie, you hooked me from the beginning mirroring images I have envisioned in my wandering mind. So often I wonder where we are headed. You'd think the recession would slow this down but I-phones and digital media are not luxuries -- they are necessities. We are being...sucked...in. No pun intended to your reference (you know the one I'm referring to).
Thanks for all the kind comments! It came to me as I realized how much the internet was absorbing our lives. A scary prospect indeed--without the alien invasion.
Okay better late than never. I'm behind on reading. I can't decide whether to laugh or be afraid, very afraid. Because I think the appeal of stories like this and the Matrix and such is the very potential for the human race to become this. Well done!
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