Corporal Daniel Thomas of the National Galactic Federation sucked on a freeze-dried coffee cube and pondered the days activities. Nothing was planned. This was not out of the ordinary aboard the USS Librarius. His two-year mission was to boldly go where no librarian had gone before. As a consequence of too much sitting he was stressing his butt cheeks like no man had stressed his butt cheeks before.
For the sake of his sanity he had taken to reading through the libraries vast collection of electronic records. He belonged to the record keeping section of the federation, the American Sun StoreHouse. Yes he worked for ASS. The acronym was unfortunate and not well thought out but their mission was important none the less. They were in charge of the accumulation, storage and preservation of all known collected data generated by earth before its sun burnt out. That’s ASP for those keeping track of acronyms. Yes, fairly tame.
Up until this mission all he had known about the suns extinguishment was that it had caught the earths inhabitants somewhat by surprise. The only survivors of the planet where those that were off world attached to some government mission or on a private space tour. This had always baffled him. It wasn’t as if they were without warning. Although pretty quick, light from the sun did take some time to reach earth and the process of fuel burning out wasn’t like switching off a light. There would be some dimming for a while which would have prompted people to get their shit together.
He had stumbled upon the explanation quite by accident and much to the surprise of the scientific community. The details of how he came to his conclusions had not yet been published and currently he was dancing around that subject as long as he could. For the moment he was front and center on the world’s stage and he intended to stay in the spotlight as long as possible.
He had started a daily habit of reading through the diary section of the personal records collection. These were all known recovered diaries of the last inhabitants of earth. Initially it was slow going. They were quite cryptic and seem to be encoded. They began to make sense once he figured out they were ordered by the age of their authors. Since most of them he had been started when the authors where teenagers, the word “like” was used to fulfill every part of the structure of a sentence, often multiple parts of the same sentence.
This realization allowed him to skip forward to their later collections where the use of the word “like” became infrequent and took on its traditional role in a sentence. Clarity was much more frequent. It was here that he began to formulate his idea or what the scientific community would call his hypothesis.
He noticed many references to the use of devices called smart-phones. It seems its use had replaced most forms of human interaction. There were many examples of authors chatting to friends solely through the use of email , chat sessions and something called “words with friends”. No location or venue seemed to be off-limits as to where these interactions took place. Some authors wrote of using their smart-phone to order and pay for a coffee while waiting in line at the coffee shop, thus making the minimal amount of human interaction required to order a coffee obsolete.
An idea , usually the result of the last gasp of a dying brain cell, appeared in Daniels mind sans thought bubble. How much of the earthlings normal attention span had now been occupied by these smart-phones?
Consulting the accident report section of the news archives, he noticed a correlation between the rise of accidents and the rise in use of smart-phones. There were smart-phone related accidents during every activity that occupied human lives. Even sex. Don’t ask, you don’t want to own that imagery. The participants survived. Their relationships however did not.
People had become so addicted to their smart- phones they were not paying attention to anything else in their environment. Their lives had become one big commercial for mayhem. His hypothesis was that It was entirely possible that any changes to the intensity of the sun went unnoticed by the earthlings.
Daniel found it morbidly interesting that all during history, the culling work of Darwin had been greatly usurped by a small handful of bright individuals and that the ultimate culling was brought on by another small handful of bright individuals. So while the meek did not inherit the earth it was certainly the geek that brought it to its knees.*
* The author is proud to call himself a geek and contends that the bible contained a typo and it was always intended that the geek inherit the earth.
Note: There is some suspension of scientific opinion required for this one.
Scientists agree that billions of years from now the sun will expand into a red ball and die. The earth is going to get much hotter making global warming look like a slight fever. The oceans will boil away. Planets near the sun will burn and become the dream of every executive at Kingsford, big orbiting chucks of charcoal.
Note 2: While writing this at , where else, a coffee shop the author observed a group of customers, arranged in a line of tables, all of them concentrating on whatever they were typing on their Macbook Airs. They did not appear to be interacting with each other but since he could not see what they were typing who knows. The icing on this surreal slice of life cake was that they all were bobbing their head in time to the Salsa music blaring out of the shops speakers.