This story is by Toni L. Johnson and was part of our 10th Anniversary Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Today is September 15, 2030 and this is the one-year anniversary since we lost all technology and our lives were forever changed. For years I’ve heard the theories that we would have a technology crash, but to be honest, I’ve never believed it. I always thought that it was just a bunch of conspiracy theorists trying to scare everyone and convince them to stop relying on the internet and social media so much. It reminded me about the theories back before the year 2000 when everyone was worried about the loss of computer data once the year became 00. I remember learning in History class that in the 1990s everyone was concerned that all the data on the computers would be compromised when the date rolled over to the year 2000. They called it Y2K and all the computer programmers were placed on projects to convert all the programs from displaying a two-digit year to displaying a four-digit year. The companies and programmers believed that by making that change, they would eliminate the loss of data once the year became 00. It was a large conversion and all the companies hired these programmers on contracts to make these changes to their internal programs. These projects lasted for a few years and many programmers came out of retirement to cash in on the plentiful job market. The people that had the skills to edit the programming code were paid very well for their services. Since Y2K was a theory that never came to fruition, I believed that the theories of a technology collapse were also unfounded and would never happen.
My name is Samantha Jameson, I’m no one important, but I feel that it is necessary for there to be a record of what has happened and the changes that it has made to our society. I am documenting the events as I have witnessed them. Hopefully, someone in the future will find this journal and at least have one person’s account of the decline of the Information Age. I never believed we would lose all the technology until that fateful day. It just didn’t seem like a viable outcome. I was convinced that all the intelligent people that created the internet and all the platforms, had it all figured out. I was confident in the technology, as I am sure most everyone else was. I thought there were defenses programmed into the internet that would prohibit this type of collapse from happening.
The downfall seemed to happen in phases: all the social media sites went first, followed by the cell phones, and finally, the entire internet stopped working. Eventually, we did lose electricity since most of the utility companies relied on computer systems and the internet to control their daily processes. Without electricity or the computers people were unable to access their money through the ATMs. The banks were unable to provide people any cash since the records were digitally stored and there was no way to confirm how much money people had in their accounts. The big computer companies have been trying to figure out how it all happened. They have a theory that a hacker had installed a virus that was able to get past all the virus protection software and it just went from one device to the next until everything was blacked out. Unfortunately, it will be hard for them to verify exactly what caused these “Dark Days” due to the fact that we no longer have access to the data that could explain exactly what had transpired and led up to the failure.
As I already explained, I didn’t listen to conspiracy theories. So, as you can guess, I was in no way prepared to survive when the crash happened. When we started losing the social media sites one at a time, I decided that I needed to get stocked up just in case something horrible happened. I went through my pantry and made several trips to the store in an effort to get enough food and other necessities. I created a hide-away in my attic (there are no stairs or access to the attic, it’s basically a crawl space). I filled my new space with as much non-perishable food and water as I could and also placed items up there so that I could pass the time without going stir-crazy. With the time that I had, I created a walkway within the walls of my house and made a ladder entrance into my attic. I can come and go using this back entry fairly easy and not be detected by other people that might happen to come to this property looking for whatever they can scavenge. I got this idea from stories that I once heard about people living in the walls of empty houses. The idea always creeped me out to think that you could buy a home and end up having a stranger living within the walls, eating your food, or going through your stuff at night while you slept. I just hope that no one will think to look for tunnels and that I can remain safe.
The wild animals now have no fear of humans and will come right up to the house whether you are outside or not. It isn’t the animals you have to worry about though, it’s other humans. A lot of the human race has proven that when faced with adversity, they fight against each other rather than work together to survive. It seems as though everyone is out for themselves, which leaves me suspicious of everyone that I encounter. It would be nice to have several people living and working together for survival and companionship, like in all those TV shows about the zombie apocolypse. It’s really ironic to think about missing companionship because before this happened, most of us spent a lot of our time, even when together, on our phones. It seems that the people that were flooding the social media sites with their ideas of government conspiracy, and how the government was using the internet to watch and control everything, are using this situation to convince others that they were right.
I never used to think that I had any survival skills, but here I am one year later and I think I have done pretty well for myself. I think my parents would be proud to see how I’ve handled this situation and how resourceful I have become. I think they were a little worried about me most of the time since it seemed that all I ever wanted to do was be on my phone, even when visiting with family. I’m an adult, but they still worried and wanted me to socialize more.
Four days ago, while I was out trying to gather some necessities, I encountered a group of radicals that were running around and accosting people that walked by them. I put my head down and walked the other direction quickly before they could see me. I didn’t think that they had noticed me, but three days ago a large group of these people came here. I was stuck up in the attic for the two days that they decided to camp out downstairs. I could hear them crashing around the house and breaking things while they were looking for anything that they might be able to use. The whole time they were camped downstairs I did everything that I could not to make any noise. I was afraid to open any food for fear that they would hear me or smell the food. At one point, it sounded like they had found my tunnel, it sounded like someone was in the walls, and I kept expecting someone’s head to pop up into the attic opening. Thankfully, they did not find me and they have not returned. I am here, still surviving one day at a time, and I will continue to document these crazy events.
I don’t know whether the world will go back to the way it was before, but I hope the future society can figure out how to get us to a better form of “normal.” I don’t know whether these conspiracy theorists had an “in” or if it just happened to be a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. What I don’t understand, is if the conspiracy theorists had prepared like they were telling everyone else to do, why do they feel the need to go around and scavenge from others? Is it more of that selfish mentality that forces them to be greedy and not care those others need to survive? I hope that whoever finds this journal will help to create a better society, where everyone works together, and cares about each other’s welfare. Whatever caused this collapse to happen, I hope we all can learn from it and that it has a positive outcome for the future of the human race. Something good has to come out of all of this, right?