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The Great Uncoupling of 2229

A Renewed Tradition of Disconnecting

By Adam ClostPublished 22 days ago 6 min read
Top Story - July 2024

“I realize there are still aspects of humanity that my kind cannot understand or appreciate….”

The soft, airy voice resonating from the orb that trailed Teyhx through the hallway of her dorm pleaded with her to see reason. Though, ultimately, the decision was not hers anyways.

What the city of Guelton was about to try was a collective action. The entire population would be participating, or at least affected by it. It was an experiment inspired by stories of similar things that had taken place on University campuses just like hers, and the drastic impact they had made, at least in the short term, on the students and faculty who had participated.

“….. But I do not see how this course of action could possibly benefit you, or this University, or Guelton in any way. The loss of any technological services for 24 hours coul—”

Teyhx smiled and shook her head a little as she interrupted her ‘floater.’

“It won’t.”

Her voice was firm and determined.

“It’s one day.”

She and her paired AI continued on towards the lifts at the end of the hallway.

“Neurological activity suggests mild amusement and dismissive feelings. Would you explain or direct me to information that will clarify the purpose of today’s experiment? I would like to synthesize the data and adapt algorithms to incorporate the human rationale and goals behind such an action…. before my 24-hour shut down.”

Teyhx puffed her cheeks out and released an exasperated breath.

“You see. It’s things like that. You being able to do that…..”

“Do what?”

“Interpret what I think, feel or need based on my neurological activity! That’s what we need a break from. That’s what this little experiment is going to give us.”

TW-879610 (which Teyhx had shortened to “Two-Ten”) bobbled along behind her. She knew it was awaiting a prompt that would allow it to surmise the entire history and goals of the ‘shutdown,’ which was scheduled to begin in 15 minutes.

“Review all information related to ‘The Great Uncoupling of 2025,’ and we’ll go from there.”

Teyhx walked outside and tapped her left temple to switch off the overlay from her ocular lenses. It allowed her to view the sun and campus environment without the obstruction of a constant flow of information and indicators, but the permanent, dull-blue tinge of her the lenses remained. She knew she wasn’t seeing true colour.

Within the seven minutes that it took Teyhx to reach Reeves Green, Two-Ten had sifted through decades of data. It had collected and analyzed feedback about the event from various, long-forgotten peer-to-peer connection platforms, many of which had ultimately been abandoned by users due to their inefficiencies, or general lack of useful, constructive content.

“It would appear that this experiment became an annual occurrence for a time Teyhx. A way for human beings to ‘disconnect from devices’ and ‘reconnect with each other,’ as it was described in many accounts.”

“Exactly. So as I’m sure you’ve seen, a few years ago some PhD candidate from Van U, one of those floating Universities out on the West Coast, discovered that this was something people tried to develop into a “summer solstice” tradition. Entire cities and countries would spend the “longest day of the year” re-engaging with the actual world. He initially revived it as a peculiar experiment tied to his thesis, but after the positive personal experiences started to pour out of the population at that school, the entire city tried it the following year!”

“The data suggests that the immediate after-effects of the original events were a decrease in crime, all-cause mortality, violent or socially disruptive interactions on peer-to-peer platforms, and an increase in altruistic or philanthropic actions from individuals. There also appeared to be a rather large, but temporary increase in international cooperation and conflict resolution, as well as collective actions aimed at solving global economic or environmental issues, in the days and weeks following each ‘shutdown.”

“Well, that’s pretty much what this student’s thesis was….. If we could disconnect from always being fed information and living in our half-digital, half-physical, inward-oriented worlds, we would become more present, more connected with one another and the world around us.”

“Understood. But the annual tradition that began after the original Uncoupling Event only persisted for around 30 years. Once everything was automated and required artificial oversight by programs like myself, I can only find information about this being pursued as some kind of novelty.”

“Well that’s part of the reason people are trying to revive this Two-Ten. Maybe it died because it only happened once a year….. or because both hemispheres didn’t do it at the same time…. OR because people couldn’t get over themselves and started to argue about it’s value. We’re no different today. Too many people just want to be heard, or to be right in some way that means others are wrong…. People derive some kind of sad value or satisfaction from it.”

Two-Ten hovered along silently.

Teyhx peered at Reeves Green, which was already populated by hundreds of students and faculty. She felt a surge of emotion, anticipation, giddiness rising in her. It felt like she needed to cry out or vomit… or both. A volcanic wave of joy pulsed its way up from her abdomen through to her lungs and heart, eventually resolving as heat and tensed muscles in her face.

“Maybe, if we give it a new life, we’ll find a new piece of life for ourselves too.”

“This means, in approximately 7 minutes, I will be shuttered for a full 24-hour cycle?” her companion asked flatly.

“Yes, but so will every other piece of tech in our entire town. It’s not just you.”

“The town will not be capable of functioning.”

“Oh I’m sure it will. Like I said, it’s only one day. We’ve endured blackouts for longer, and people have been preparing for this all year.”

“Besides, if anything unexpected happen, people will figure it out. That’s all part of this. Learning to be self-sufficient again. Learning to solve problems and work together. It’s been….. generations since human beings have actually had to.”

“And this desire to make life less efficient? MORE difficult?”

“Mmmmmm….. I don’t know where that comes from. Call it, the ‘human spirit.’ But part of the anticipation and excitement is in ‘NOT knowing.’ Not knowing is something we became afraid of a very long time ago.”

“So the goal of this is pleasure and reward through engaging in a difficult task?”

“I mean….. yes, but also no. The hope is that it might become a global movement. There are hundreds of places around the world participating this year, and if it keeps spreading, it might be something the entire world will do one day…. Imagine the impact that could have!?”

“Well, if I extrapolate from previous data based on the original Great Uncoupling Event, and the most recent iteration at Van U, an approxima——”

Two-Ten ceased to glow, dropping from Teyhx’s eyeline into the grass at her feet.

She knelt down and scooped up the little, silver ball, admiring the lines etched across it’s surface in zig-zagging patterns. The cracks looked like some kind of maze or puzzle had been carved into Two-Ten’s surface.

Teyhx tucked her companion away in her pocket before standing to look out over the field.

No blue tint from her intra-ocular lenses filtering the world’s colours before they reached her pupils.

No flood of information impairing her field of vision or her thoughts.

The trees swayed all around her. She could actually appreciate the rustling of their branches.

She could hear birds that she couldn’t see. Nothing was there to indicate the presence of vital signs or living organisms.

She discovered what it meant to be alone in her own head.

Long shadows were cast onto the lawn stretching out towards Teyhx as the sunlight crashed into the trees and students in front of her.

She squinted against the sunbeams. No lens activation meant no sun protection. It was the first time she had ever experienced the need to actually close, or shield her eyes from direct sunlight.

“Don’t stare directly at it…” a voice cautioned from behind her.

She turned to see a new face.

A young man with turquoise eyes and a wide, warm smile held out his hand.

“A lot of people forget, or just don’t even know that their lenses automatically dampen photons!”

She scrunched her nose up a little at him.

She knew that.

She just…. didn’t know not to stare.

“Hi, I’m Meahrk.”

“Teyhx.”

She reached for his hand and returned the smile.

“How many people do you think end up needing ocular replacement implants after today?”

“Depends on how many cities around the world are joining in.”

“If it means that the world starts to reconnect with each other….. then bring on the implants.”

They laughed and turned towards the sunlit field.

Neither of them had noticed that they still hadn’t let go of each other’s hands.

humanitytechscience fiction

About the Creator

Adam Clost

Canadian teacher & globetrotter

Reader of a wide variety of non-fiction (science/physics, philosophy, sociology/anthro/history) and science fiction (recently Chinese Sci-Fi).

Hobbyist writer, mostly Sci-Fi, for fun and as a creative outlet.

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  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (11)

  • Mike Singleton 🌜 Mikeydred 🌛18 days ago

    Hi we are featuring your excellent Top Story in our Community Adventure Thread in The Vocal Social Society on Facebook and would love for you to join us there

  • Harbor Benassa18 days ago

    I love this story!! The way you gave all the characters, even the AI, unique voices and life was brilliant. Fantastic job.

  • Hannah Moore19 days ago

    Love how you moved this forward I to the future. Also, that line about being right in away that meant others are wrong.

  • Cyrus19 days ago

    Great work and congrats on TS!

  • Congrats on the Top Story! I love how you handled the topic of being connected to tech. Really great lessons in this!

  • angela hepworth19 days ago

    Awesome take on humanity and the future state of technology!

  • ken chu20 days ago

    Amazing!

  • Dr Manisha20 days ago

    Good work........................!

  • Sam Avery20 days ago

    Really amazing and interesting story

  • Kathy Tsoukalas20 days ago

    This was such a sweet story! Very beautiful.

  • Reiley22 days ago

    This was amazingly beautiful! In a world overrun by technology, that human contact is what should be valued! Amazing job on this piece!

Adam ClostWritten by Adam Clost

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