Technology has always fascinated me. It evolves much faster than any living species on Earth and it has made life so much more convenient that I cannot even fathom how many professions it has rendered obsolete. Yet, I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that it would eventually lead to mankind’s undoing. I always imagined robots imbued with artificial intelligence that would figure out just how harmful the human race is to itself and everything around it. But it wasn’t a robot army committing apocalyptic genocide worthy of a science fiction blockbuster. Technology played its role in the fall of humanity, but we had much more to do with it.
It was decades before we knew what was happening to the very world we live in. Everything must have started the day of the attack. A group of religious nut jobs hatched a plan to destroy several buildings, including a government facility and a financial powerhouse. After the bombings, we all thought we were united in our goal of seeing these murderers and their entire organization brought to justice. It turns out some had more intricate plans.
Over the next few years, little things started happening in various parts of the country, barely significant enough to take notice of. A strange court ruling here, an odd mandate from a local government official there. Like tiny blips on otherwise quiet radar, something definitely did not feel right. I was just a kid when the attack happened, but by this time I was a young man with some strong beliefs and an interest in politics. I didn’t realize there was any connection, but I had begun to feel that politicians and their decisions were beginning to veer into unsettling directions.
Little by little, social progress was being slowed and even hindered in certain areas. It wasn't exactly alarming that some judges were voting against marriage equality or even some issues of gender equality. Governors of states that generally opposed progressive legislation were not looked at twice for mandating silly little things like "heterosexual pride day". But to a strong believer in equality like myself, every instance I was made aware of concerned me. The more it happened, the more worried I became.
It was about thirteen years after the attack that the public started learning the truth, but by then it was too little and too late. At first, we only found out that our government was spying on us, monitoring phone calls, texts, and internet activity. We assumed it was for the sole purpose of finding dangerous people and preventing the next attack. We never could have imagined how much of our lives were under surveillance and not one of us knew the real reason why.
There were cameras on every street corner, in every store, in our computers, in our phones, even hidden in our televisions. At any given time, the average person would have three to five cameras pointed at them from different angles and monitoring their every move. About twenty years after the attack, we began to learn the truth behind it all.
It took a long time, but some began to piece together that people were going missing at an alarming rate. The pattern began with people that no one would miss but eventually, it escalated to the point where conspiracy theories began to surface. They suggested that the missing people had all been critical of the government’s violent responses to perceived threats to national security and detainment of suspects without trials or charges. A few years later, the world as we knew it began to mutate beyond recognition.
No one knew what to think when the Foundation for a Better World went public. They talked about restoring the lost morality of society at large and how they wanted everyone to help them build a utopia out of the shattered pieces of our once-great nation. Some people thought it was insane, or just a bunch of corporate lies told by greedy executives in fancy suits. Those voices quickly fell silent and were never heard again.
It wasn’t long before the FBW began “instilling their virtues” through what many people would call propaganda. They told us that children should obey their parents and that if they didn’t, they’d be shipped off to a boarding school owned and operated by the foundation. They also had some very archaic views about women, and they believed that feminism was one of the reasons the world had descended into chaos.
Women were banned from the work force by law. The FBW was flexing its muscles by showing us that it had its hooks in judges and government officials from all branches. Before long, they were labeling certain groups as “unclean” for having beliefs that opposed those of the foundation. Any and all members of those groups were thrown in prison or seemingly vanished off the face of the Earth.
They began to censor media and entertainment that they called “inappropriate”. Swear words that had progressively become more permitted on television in years past were now abolished by the foundation. They also banned any content of a sexually subversive nature, including homosexuality and all forms of pornography. Thousands of shows, movies, and music were outlawed for their mature content and the ratings systems were replaced by a stamp of “Foundation Approved” status. Anything without this label was contraband.
Video games were targeted as well. Despite the majority of the population being at least casual gamers, the FBW managed to ban violence in video games. This included even the most child-friendly games that included any kind of fighting. They claimed it was to prevent further tragedies by "eliminating violent behavior from the mainstream". The aforementioned bans of sex and swearing were also applied to games, as well as the foundation’s stamp of approval system.
Even education started to change. The FBW replaced science and history textbooks with their own literature. Over time, they rewrote history as they saw fit and the laws of science were whatever the foundation decreed. The medical profession was all but abolished under the idea that true believers of their doctrine would be free of illness. Those that died of fatal diseases were seen as unclean doubters that got what they deserved.
By now, the foundation’s control is absolute. Everyone knows how they operate, but no one talks about it because they fear for their lives. The people who vanished were killed and their bodies were destroyed. They punish children for the transgressions of their parents and eliminate every record of their victims’ existence. Their eyes are everywhere and any resistance movements are squashed before they even begin.
I sit here typing this out on an old computer, one without any of their cameras in it. I don’t know if this will reach anyone or if it will even matter. In fact, by the time I finish sending it out, they will probably have found me and I will be dead. If nothing else comes of this, I want someone out there to know that there was once a time when people were free. We didn’t live under the threat of death from a falsely altruistic corporation. I’m old enough to just barely remember when people weren’t forced to live by the teachings of the Bible.