Swiftly Now

In the future they will say of us that we evolved away from knowledge, and we suffered the consequences of its lack. Maybe not our species, maybe some other species is saying this, in 350 million years when they dig up our bones and phones and try to put together the pieces. My money’s on rats. Rats will evolve to possess language after we’re gone and they’ll say of us look at these markings, clearly they could write by this period, and by this period the population exploded simultaneously with the increased access to knowledge. Written language was much easier to study and share! Discovery on the back of discovery! Knowledge began to grow in four dimensions, while buildings shot up into the sky, for some reason, like they wanted to be birds instead of primates, which is ridiculous because clearly deep tunnels are far superior, ask anyone, we may have email now but we are still rats.

Then, around about the two thousandth year they were counting years upward instead of backward, the access to knowledge outpaced the increase in knowledge itself. Humans could share any new discovery instantly, to anyone, anywhere. For a while this was nice, probably about six months right after the turn of the century. The human world seemed on the verge of making the next evolutionary leap. 

Unfortunately for homo sapien, however, a subordinate segment of the population soon realized that the appearance of knowledge could fill the gap between the demand for and supply of actual knowledge. Many several humans lost their pants in those early days to faux royalty from another continent. A human named Craig seems to have been personally responsible for all manner of chicanery. Human predators tried to hunt down and eat the more vulnerable humanoid young by luring them away from safety using false names and faces, but sometimes themselves fell prey to the ultimate human hunter, Christopherus wallacus. 

The humans did their best to check these early attempts at attacking the informational gap, but then something happened they did not predict. Once the faux royalty scam had seemed to die out, they felt safe enough for the scam to become common fodder for hack comedians and blog writers, assuming that real knowledge had risen up to assume its rightful place as the guide to all humanity. What actually happened was that email became too slow.

As a result of the shrinking duration between thirst and quench, the humans stopped emailing each other, utilizing faster and increasingly inescapable forms of communication instead. The written word soon succumbed to the same fallible nature that had prevented verbal communication from advancing the human race during the eons it had existed prior to literacy being systematically passed on generation to generation. Writing was suddenly everywhere, all the time. Much like vocal speech, it became sloppy, with the increased pressure to decrease the space between responses. Language lost precision. Words themselves, with years of established and agreed-upon meaning, lost their definition, in every sense of the word. Counterintuitively, a human could write one thing and claim to have meant the opposition, or even to have never written it at all. 

For those who had trained themselves for decades to artistically, even expertly shape language to convey ideas, this dissolution of the agreed upon rules of diction weighed on them daily, with no small amount of existential dread. But the increasing majority of humanity adapted to the changing times with ease. The loss of thought before speech was scarcely mourned. In fact, almost all thought was swiftly bred out of the populace. Previous to the advent of persistent communication, thought managed to find refuge in the brief moments when socially connected humans were necessarily separated, such as retreating to proprietary domiciles at the end of a day’s communal labor, or exercising. However, it quickly became impossible to pilot a four-wheeled automocar, ride a moving staircase, even transport their infant human for a sensory-respiratory perambulation about the local travelways without narrating their immediate experience to someone else. To anyone else, it did not matter to whom. 

And thus speech and speech-like text eliminated the human cognitive ability entirely. Appearance of knowledge trumped knowledge. As technology evolved, so evolved humanity, with such coincidal fervor that the unexpected lithium shortage in human year 2050 caused everyone everywhere to freeze in place the moment their portable communication device spilled its last drop of electric juice. Within six months, everyone was dead. It is generally thought to have been a painless mass extinction event, as no emoji were available to express any potential discomfort, thus any discomfort detected by the humans as they swiftly died of dehydration would have been rejected by the brain as non-existent. Collectively the entire species flickered out like spent candles.

And the rest of the world rejoiced.

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