Picture this: 50 years from now, after the Great Nuclear War, a group of primitive wasteland dwellers dressed in bubble wrap walk the Earth. Taking refuge in a derelict McDonald’s, they burn piles of iPads and smartphones to keep warm. The fire generates enough heat to spark one of the devices back to life, catching the eye of one of the starved survivors. Morosely grunting at the screen, they press on one of the apps and cluelessly access what remains of an ancient tool known as ‘The Internet’. The beings’ eyes widen as they’re immediately greeted with images of Jennifer Lopez’s twat.
After some time – having discovered how to use phone chargers and keep the device alive – the dwellers become accustomed to our archaic language, thanks to predictive text and the Internet telling them what they meant to search for. They’re completely in awe of the search engine’s capabilities; providing the answers to all of their questions and supplying them with funny cat videos. They surmise that this can only be the creation of a superior species, beings who walk upright and probably don’t fling shit at each other when they get angry. All in agreement, the dwellers swear to learn and grow from the technology. They hold the device up to sky and glumly chant: ‘Google it… Google it’.
Several thousand years pass and the beings become civilised. They’ve created five more apps. One of which is a new form of social media that gives absolutely any idiot the ability to control the planet if they have enough followers. It also lets them share pictures of their dinner and spell things incorrelly. A robot designed to look like a living being, with permanently pursed lips and skin like a 1970s leather sofa, takes a particular interest in the platform. It uses it to convince everyone that enlightenment is bad, and that they should revert back to their primitive state, before they even knew how to drink out of cups.
Saturated with lies and fairytales created by the leathery robot, Google can no longer be trusted to answer people’s questions. But the beings discover another search engine, one that doesn’t randomly pluck its responses from a ‘cloud’ that no one can seem to locate. The new one requires the most intelligent individuals to get together and post actual facts and wisdom in a protected forum, which for no reason at all, I shall refer to as Smegma.
Millions of people protest in the name of enlightenment, encouraging others to discover new facts, as long as they’re ones that don’t upset anyone. The robot is then impeached after being caught grabbing an alien by the pussy, allowing the beings to continue their pursuit of true knowledge. They spend centuries making improvements to the forum, adding new facts and recipes for lovely hummuses. When there is nothing left to learn, the beings realise that the point of their entire existence was to simply waste time looking for meaning. They’d spent their whole lives filling themselves with Smegma.
At which point, one of the characters turns to the camera and says: ‘Er… Now what?’
That’s more or less the plot of 2001: A Space Odyssey – the ultimate tale of enlightenment.