The specter of a technology-driven apocalypse has haunted human minds for well over a century. Since 1945, many have thought that nuclear weapons would be the cause of our self-destruction. Others have proposed viruses, ecological catastrophes, or zombies as the agents of humanity’s annihilation.
But what if the reason for our demise was subtle rather than dramatic? What if, instead of going out with a bang, we vanish in a whisper?
That is the scenario created by gaming technology. It enables users to create worlds of their own, in which they can be warriors, kings, sex gods, or whatever they fancy. Who needs reality when you’ve got fantasies that you can see, smell, hear, and taste? This is what awaits us in the near future.
Even more pernicious is social media, which offers the ability to erase others with a click of a mouse. Making the wrong comment, or posting an annoying video, can result in being “defriended,” or even blocked, by the god that rules a particular micro-universe.
The shunned individual has the same ability, of course; and within that power is where the potential for Doomsday lies. When people are no longer forced to see, talk to, or put up with each other, then the foundations of civilization will begin to break down.
A world that is becoming a global community could be transformed into billions of disconnected individuals. Each will be so engrossed in her own Nirvana that discussion is impossible and consensus unheard of. Instead of mass extinction, humanity may be consumed on a piecemeal basis. Everyone will be God, but no one will matter.