Are you prepared for the death of the internet?
Right now it’s shiny and crowded and new, but this place only has a decade or two left. Soon something better will come along. A new platform, an improved way to interface, maybe even an entirely different architecture for our information. Or will information itself become obsolete?
The web is our collective unconscious. It’s where much of our imagination and creativity resides. It is the promise of the future.
But that promise is what will lead to its collapse. Technology cannot possibly liberate us from the evils of this world, because we are that evil. It cannot free us and heal us. There will always be suffering.
When the end comes, we’ll quickly forget the old internet in our rush to embrace the new, new thing. It will be left desolate. Websites will break down. Emails will pile up. Maybe the bots will take over, Tweeting at each other to no avail.
Some poor souls will be left behind. Maybe the new tech is too expensive for them. The elderly may find the language and functionality too difficult to grasp. They’ll be abandoned to wander the littered streets. Burnt out buildings and piles of rubble everywhere. Facebook vacant. Amazon a cascade of fatal errors.
There won’t be much of an economy remaining. So the poor and elderly will prey on each other, trying to scam a few clicks from those who never clicked much in the first place. It could become cruel, even violent, in this forsaken space.
One day a future historian will return to the world wide web and try to decipher what sort of dream was dreamt here. They may divide this lost world into categories of “Fashion,” “Boredom,” “Dream City,” “Photography,” “Catacombs,” “Advertising,” “Prostitution,” “Beyoncé,” and “Theory of Progress.”
But history never quite captures the truth that those who lived through it best understand. A few of us would surely chuckle reading our lives described in that future treatise, The Internet: Earth’s Filthy, Foolish and Ultimately Futile 50-Year Attempt to Build an Electric Utopia.
So in this brief moment of peak internet, let’s stop pretending that our posts and photos and memes are driving humanity to spiritual redemption. Instead, we should enjoy the ride to our next, next thing. Look out the window, be the merry pranksters on this absurd little bus! Further! It is, after all, just a short trip.