The Silent Age

Imagine it’s May 11, 2258. What effect will Twitter and its new language have on our race? Read on to find out.

It took generations to fully understand what happened. For decades, historians and scholars have known that around 2010, humankind plummeted towards what is now known as the Silent Age. Once we recovered the ability to properly record time, and the smartest of our generation got us back to using a universal calendar, we were able to slowly put the pieces together.

Early researchers were initially led to believe that the collapse had been precipitated by giant blue bird-like creatures — possibly from another world. Fortunately, the truth was uncovered in time to rescue the common bluebird from the brink of extinction. Doom didn’t descend from the sky on light blue feathery wings. It was much, much worse.

For ten years or so after “the fall”, a lone college professor kept a diary, which is our main record of this time. He spoke of anarchy, a total breakdown of society — madness. Based on his entries, we were able to find the sacred “Dictionary of Webster”, rediscover the letters “T” and “W”, and slowly rebuild our world. Now, nearly 250 years later, we finally have a clear picture of what happened.

People of that time felt a strong, almost urgent need to be connected and communicate. They found themselves in a world with increasing demands on their time. They worked harder, were active in more things and had less time for each other. The need for meaningful human interaction grew at an alarming rate and we turned to technology. Over and over we looked for ways to compress time, and each time, technology answered almost hypnotically — leading us astray.

New tools were created, and utilizing almost inconceivable vast computer networks that spanned the entire world, people were able to connect to more and more people. Less and less was said. In desperation, the masses reached out to more and more “friends”. People amassed populations of “friends” that dwarfed small countries. The more people there were to talk to, the less that could be said to any of them. The need to be heard grew, and people reached out even more. A vicious cycle had started.

Then it happened. Some of the tools created in those last days allowed us to communicate in smaller and smaller fragments. We went from the 160 character text message to the 140 character “tweet”. The language rapidly morphed. Literally hundreds of new words were created almost overnight. Usage in these tools skyrocketed. People tried in vain to catalog these new words. Several archived links to the ancient Internet contain vast dictionaries of the new words that were created:

Hundreds and hundreds of words like Twappi, Twautocomplete, TreoTwit, twiggit, TwitDir, Triqqr, Twadd, Twadget, Twaffic, Twaggle, Twaigslist, Twaiting, Twardware, Twashdot, Twaunt —look in the archives, there may be thousands.

In a last-ditch move, the major governments of that time entirely banned the letters “T” and “W” from all written languages. The Internet was shut down. Text messaging was banned. It was a desperate gamble — but it was too late. Without the tools that we had become so dependent on, we couldn’t communicate. There were too many dialects that were too spread out. LMAO meant twelve distinctly different things.

“AYCPUTI!*” A baffled engineer, hand on the power switch, stared as his manager shouted — a look of incomprehension and terror crawling across his face.

Psychologists didn’t understand until it was entirely too late. It was irreversible.

The entire race simply forgot how to speak.

Shortly after this time, we have no record for nearly a hundred years.

There is a silver lining to the story of our troubled past. The human spirit is durable. After wandering for years in darkness, the human race has emerged once more. Stronger for our struggles. A race of people who talk to each other, with real words, in person.

*AYFCPUTI = Are you (word lost to time) Crazy? Power Up The Internet!”