The following column originally appeared June 26, 2012.
“The time has arrived for us to bring about the final destruction of the world,” Satan told his minions. “Any suggestions?”
A dark figure in a red cloak raised his hand.
“Yes, Mr. Grim?”
“We should create an internet, which will allow instant communication by people across the entire planet.”
“And how will that lead to the end of the world?” asked Satan.
Mr Grim leaned forward and said, “It will allow people to say anything they want, about anyone and anything, unfiltered and uncensored – and without using their real names.”
“Interesting,” said Satan. “Accusations without evidence or accountability. The confusion of truth with lies – one of our specialties. But we’ve been promoting that for years.”
“Never on this scale,” said Mr. Grim. “The internet will make such statements viewable by everyone, instantly.”
“I like it,” said Satan. “Anything else?”
A smoldering apparition in the far corner of the dark room stood up.
“Yes, Mr. Dread?”
“Chat rooms,” he said.
“Excuse me?” replied Satan.
“Internet chat rooms, your Evil Excellency. It will allow users to converse with each other while misrepresenting their identities and their intent – especially useful in luring children into compromising or dangerous situations.”
“Fascinating,” said Satan. “Remind me to give you a promotion.”
“Thank you, o’ Wicked One. Surely you would have thought of it yourself.”
“Perhaps,” said Satan. “But don’t call me Shirley. What else?”
A tall figure dressed in black materialized in the center of the ghastly gathering.
“Yes, Mr. Gruesome?”
“ Internet slang.”
“Internet slang, your Unholy Majesty. It will be a form of shorthand used in text messages, social media and emails. Soon, no one will be able to spell words correctly, and the general intelligence of the population will fall precipitously.”
“Come up to the blackboard and give us an example,” Satan ordered.
Mr. Gruesome slowly floated to the front of the room, took the chalk and wrote, “U r gr8 & powrfl. LOL.”
Satan studied it for several seconds, then said, “I give up. What does it say?
“It says, ‘You are great and powerful.’”
“Very nice,” said Satan, seeing it now. “And what does LOL mean?”
“Uh… Leader of Legions,” replied Mr. Gruesome, as the others snickered quietly behind Satan’s back.
“Outstanding,” said Satan, very pleased. “And quite right. Anything else?”
Miss Horrid slinked seductively to Satan’s side. When the “oohs and ahhs” subsided, she purred, “Pornography.”
“I like it,” said Satan. “But again, we’ve been using pornography for years.”
“Using it like amateurs,” said Miss Horrid, with a sly wink. “One magazine or movie at a time, and always with restrictions. Hah! With the internet, we can flood every home in the world with the trashiest pornography available, making it accessible even to children.”
Satan nodded appreciatively. “Now that’s something special,” he said, sliding his slimy arm around her waist.
Miss Horrid slapped his hand and whispered, “Not in front of the minions, dearest.”
“Very well,” replied Satan with a frown. “Are there any other ideas?”
“Emoticons,” came a voice near the front. Satan looked down at Mr. Prank, his most irritating minion, who had a perpetual grin etched upon his bright yellow face, and who specialized in deeds and acts that were more annoying than evil.
“Just what is an emoticon?” asked Satan impatiently.
“Little symbols that smile, or frown, or wink, or stick out their tongues,” said Mr. Prank. “You can put them at the end of sentences to show your mood, or the intent of your message.”
Satan rolled his eyes. “I cannot see that catching on, even with the human population.”
“Don’t overestimate them,” said Mr. Grisly, coming to Mr. Prank’s defense.”The general population is quite susceptible to frivolity.”
“Perhaps you’re right,” said Satan. “I’ll consider it. Anything else?”
A stocky figure stood up on the left.
“Yes, Mr. Gore?”
“Is it ok if I get started putting it all together?”
“Not yet,” replied Satan. “Sit down.”
Mr. Gore sighed heavily and took his seat.
There was silence. After a long pause, Satan said, “This is all very good and well, but we need something even bigger on this internet, something that will feed into the narcissism inherent in every human being.”
“Like us?” asked Mr. Wretched as the others began to stir.
“Yes, like us,” said Satan, his voice rising. “Something that will devour hours of mankind’s time every day on worthless drivel while their lives slip carelessly away.”
“Like us?” asked Mr. Hideous. The minions were getting excited now.
“Yes, like us!” bellowed Satan “Something that – wait! I have it! It will dominate the world! It will open a portal to feed into the total self-absorption of the human race and lead to the final destruction of society as they know it! It will be called Facebook! And it will wreak havoc on the world!”
“Like us!” the minions cried in unison, standing and cheering.
“Yes!” said Satan, raising his arms in triumph and shouting above the din. “Like us! Like us on Facebook!”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456, or follow on Twitter @AbernathyGary.