The year is 8132 CE.
The known universe has experienced nearly 1000 years of peace and stability after 5 millennia of nonstop war and suffering.
HP-9000 is a tenured cyborg professor at a prestigious institute of higher learning on Io, Jupiter’s moon. He prepares to give his students a very important lecture: the beginning of the third millennium and the fall of civilization.
Prof. HP-9000: Thank you students, both carbon-based and silicone-based, for attending this lecture. As you know, this is a subject that is very dear to my cybernetic heart. How did humanity, after 6,000 years of progress, suddenly fall apart? Of course, the official end of the first era regarding civilization is around 2600CE, after the conclusion of World War 25. But the 600 year period before that time, starting around the 1990s is, for all intents and purposes, a dark age.
Student: What do we know about this dark age Professor HP?
Prof. HP-9000: Well, we know that there were numerous world wars that were extremely profitable. Each sequel made more than the one before. But this chain reaction of violence likely started in the early 2000s. People became divided into two groups. One was the Wesleyans, a people that were devoted to the ideals Wes Michael and his platform “Philosophy Redux”. The others were the Peterites: devotees of a psychologist named Jordan Peterson. In fact, one of the few artifacts remaining from this era is Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life”. The reason we know so little is because everything was documented on a contraption known as “The Internet”.
An alien-esque student stood up and began excreting green liquid from his ears.
Alien Student: Curse the Internet! And curse the day it was invented!
Prof. HP-9000: Yes yes. The Internet indeed cursed humanity. It also cursed a number of other species across the galaxy. No one will argue against that Mr. Ymi&eiof! And because humans backed up all of their information on the Internet, subsequent wars and alien invasions from the sea and space wiped everything clean. We know next to nothing about this time. But we do know that the Peterites did commit genocide against the Wesleyans.
Human Student: Do we know anything about Jordan Peterson and Wes Michael as historical figures?
Prof. HP-9000: It is believed that Peterson was born in international waters and was raised in the lower decks of an ocean liner. He didn’t touch land until he was 25. Being a man without a country, he took to the internet to express his alienation and wept constantly. This strangely attracted a huge following. Peterson would later lead his followers to the barren wasteland called Canada where he was pronounced emperor and psychologist. On his deathbed, he bestowed upon them “12 Rules For Life”.
Robot Student: What about Wes Michael?
Prof. HP-9000: Ah yes, Wes Michael. What can be said about Wes Michael? We know even less about HIM. All we can rely on is myth. According to legend, he was born of virgin birth to a bald eagle. He was tall, handsome, and played quarterback at Notre Dame. It is said that he once looked in a mirror and wondered “what is it all for?”. He went mad from his beauty and became a wondering ascetic. Like Peterson, Michael took to the Internet. Upon his death at the age of 167, Michael had a much bigger following than Peterson. This enraged the Peterite community and led to the outbreak of World War 6. There is evidence to suggest that Michael was actually a piss-ant blogger on WordPress and no one gave a shit about “Philosophy Redux”. However this has been discredited.
Arboreal Student: What do you believe professor?
Prof. HP-9000 strokes his metallic beard and ponders the large portrait of Azuzu Toyota, the figure who ushered in peace 900 years earlier.
Prof. HP-9000: To echo the Great Unifier, Azuzu Toyota: we cannot allow false narratives to clout our judgement. Lest we find ourselves, once again, torn between the real and imagined. What’s real is right in front of us: our love, our affection for fellow beings. Perhaps in another dimension, Peterson and Michael would have been allies for peace. But they allowed the Internet to come between them. And because of the Internet, we know nothing about them.
Incorporeal Student: Does this make you sad Prof. HP-9000?
Prof. HP-9000: I’m only a robot Ms. Lana. I’m only a robot.