Bats in the belfry

The first to go down was Facebook. Not that most people cared. ‘Suck it up, Suckerberg’ was the standard sneer. When Twitter went, the chattering classes, journos, politicians and OCD commenters on anything and everything went mental but the average punter couldn’t really give a toss. One by one, the social media trees were felled and ‘influencers’ were reduced to email.

But when the Big Brother of them all, Google, crashed in the ether forest everyone heard it. Mass hysteria didn’t begin to cover the wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments as an entire generation realised they knew nothing. And they didn’t remember anything, because who needed to anymore?

With only phones and email left for communication, the remaining systems went into instant overload and could only be accessed intermittently and randomly.

Media satellites and TV and UHF transmitter stations all fused simultaneously and only broadcast radio was spared.

Suddenly the only way to know what someone was thinking or doing was to talk to them face to face or to write them a letter or listen to them on the radio if they were ‘important’. The postal service was able to pivot reasonably quickly because no-one could order anything online anymore. Letters, postal ordering and invoicing became the new rivers of gold of commerce. Print media dreamed of being kings again but the content that interspersed the advertisements dried up and people stopped buying, so advertisers followed suit.

The banks madly scrambled to re-introduce paper passbooks for their customers, which had to be updated on a special typewriter. A new industry emerged based on digging up now priceless machinery from dumps.

The first major environmental impact was the mass harvesting of any tree or plant that might conceivably used to make paper, which rapidly became a very expensive commodity. Panic buying not seen since the Corona crisis emptied warehouses overnight and was made even worse when a sheet of toilet paper was declared by the Government as being legal tender, no matter what condition it was in, which revived the term ‘filthy lucre’.

And then the witch-hunt began for the origins and the perpetrators of this e-plague, along with a million theories about the motivation, especially given its impact was global. Naturally, finding ways to research the matter now proved immensely difficult and librarians became gods. The fact that nothing could be done to retaliate against whomever began this monstrous calamity because planes couldn’t fly, ships couldn’t navigate and missiles couldn’t launch, seemed not to deter the obsession with finding a suitable scapegoat.

Ultimately the theory that gained the most ascendancy was that it was a world-wide conspiracy between western middle-class Boomers, using their secret code aka English. Missing the respect they felt they deserved and decidedly miffed about Governments forever trying to relieve them of the hard-earned savings, so the theory went, they’d conspired to re-set the evolutionary clock back to the 1960’s. Just how this was achieved didn’t trouble the believers; they ‘just knew’ it was them.

What followed was a crusade (they didn’t like it when you said genocide because it sounded evil) to exterminate everyone over 60 who didn’t have lots of guns and a well-fortified position. The crusade largely succeeded and the crusaders launched a grand series of parades and parties to celebrate their great victory, which continued until the booze and food ran out.

It was only then that it dawned on them that they had no idea how to build anything (let alone fix things when they broke), they didn’t know how to grow food or cook it, they didn’t know how to make clothes and the list grew daily. An entire series of X, Y, and Z lettered generations didn’t know their ABC’s and had now become defencelessly infantile. Their descent into anarchy and extinction was not a pretty sight.

In the peace that followed, millions of bats fed on their carcasses and nested in the belfries of skyscrapers.

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