NEW YORK—Saying the global computer network will cease to be available to users as of midnight tonight, the people of the world announced plans Wednesday to shut down the entire internet until such time as a good use for it can be found.
According to the earth’s 7.5 billion inhabitants, the internet—a technology that allows every human on the face of the planet to communicate and share data with every other human—seemed like an excellent idea at first. But while limited parts of the internet were deemed beneficial and may one day be salvaged, the global populace concluded that the overwhelming majority of it is really awful, and in some cases, even dangerous.
“Sure, it’s convenient to have this staggering amount of data at your fingertips, but once you consider that almost none of it is put to any kind of productive use, it just doesn’t seem worth it having it around, you know?” said Cleveland-based internet user Rhonda Tibbs, 39, echoing the thoughts of all humanity as she described a technology that mostly serves to amplify the voices of alienated, misinformed, and overly aggressive people. “I think it was actually okay in the beginning, even helpful. But, man, it really has gone off the rails.”
“That’s why we’re pulling the plug, right now, before it gets any worse,” Tibbs added.
Speaking to reporters, individuals across the globe cited social media as perhaps the internet’s most problematic component, having wrongly assumed it was wise to allow people to share their opinions via a tool that generously rewards whoever makes the most shocking and abhorrent statements most frequently.
But the populace also observed that the internet, originally designed as a way for research institutions to share data, was now largely a repository of sponsored content, pop-up ads, movies no one will ever watch, spam, elaborate identity theft schemes, bank accounts vulnerable to hacking, middle-aged men badly covering Aerosmith on YouTube, futile online petitions, grossly embellished OkCupid profiles, spyware, fan-generated Lord Of The Rings erotica, celebrity gossip, anti-Semitic memes, revenge porn, deceptive apartment listings, and death threats.
“The internet is horrible—there’s so much of this thing that people just shouldn’t be using at all,” said Graham Curtis, a 52-year-old Dublin, Ireland, resident. “I think the original idea was that you’d log on and express a viewpoint, and then someone else would express theirs. Then some kind of semi-constructive dialogue would take place. Instead, you go online and someone almost immediately tells you he’d laugh so hard if you offed yourself.”
“I’m glad we’re taking it down, and if it ever gets put back up, hopefully there will be some kind of quality control,” he added. “If you’re using the internet just to tell me what your 10 favorite Amy Adams movies are, and not even in any particular order, then maybe you shouldn’t be using it at all.”
Across the world, discussions have taken place as to how the internet, if it is one day revived, could be made less appalling. Several guidelines have reportedly been proposed, including a minimum age requirement and a questionnaire aimed at identifying the most frivolous or virulent users, and then either barring them entirely or corralling them inside a section of the internet dedicated to people who do nothing but make humanity worse.
While access to email and online weather services would remain largely unchanged, sources confirmed that Reddit and 4chan would be eliminated entirely, and the internet would be strictly limited to a single, reliable database of song lyrics.
“We can put the internet back up eventually, but right now we need to take a step back and really think about what we want from it,” said Devansh Patel, 27, of Chennai, India. “Linking networks of computers to facilitate the free exchange of ideas was great in theory, but it just hasn’t produced anything of merit. I still think it has potential, though, and with any luck, we can bring it back in my lifetime.”
“Nevertheless, I think everyone agrees the next internet should contain only factual information,” he continued. “I’m not sure why they didn’t think of that in the first place.”