“Disconnected” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Tara Fukagawa, Malaysia.
Technology was truly a marvellous discovery, but it is now a destruction to the society. It’s now the year 2038, and the human evolution has only ever increased as time went by. In 1938, the first computer was invented. A few years later, in 1973, the mobile phone was produced. After that, mankind discovered more and more ways to improve technology. They’ve improved so much that now, in the year 2038, technology is like—air. It’s as if we can’t live without it no matter how hard we try. Everywhere you look, technology will be there too. People of all ages have phones, computers, tablets—you name it. It’s seriously starting to become a problem. Well, only to me, that is.
I’m Colton. 16 years old and an outcast in school and society. Yeah, I’m not a very interesting person. Everyone thinks I’m a misfit because I’m the only person without all those gadgets. I personally dislike technology. I don’t despise it, I just disfavour the fact that people would rather waste their time staring at a screen. Unlike other people (basically the entire world) I spend my time reading books. I’ve loved books since I was a wee toddler. I technically grew up with books. My mother used to read me a book before bedtime every night. I adored those sessions. I adored the days where she was still alive. My mother died of cancer last year, leaving me to suffer alone. It tore my heart apart, but I managed. Just barely. I miss her to this very day. Ever since her death, my classmates made fun of me, calling me names and teasing me for being so ‘out of trend’. I didn’t listen to them, though. They didn’t know what I went through. This is my life, and not theirs.
It was a cold winter afternoon. My steady hand reached for my blue knitted scarf which was hung on the coat rack. I gently wrapped it around my neck, the warmth comforting my chilly body. I then twisted the doorknob, earning a faint ‘click’ sound. The oak door opened, and I stepped out. I closed the door behind me and I started to walk. A wave of coldness made me shiver. The temperature was cold, because it was currently winter. The surroundings were beautiful nonetheless. The snow was pearl white, and it covered majority of the town I lived in. Snow dusted upon leaves of trees, as well as roofs of houses. Small, delicate snowflakes fell from the pale blue sky. It was a sight to behold. However, it still felt empty. It was probably because of the deserted town. There was absolutely no one on the streets. The so called ‘Christmas mood’ gone. As if it never existed in the first place. I continued walking on the snowy streets. The melancholy feel never left. Maybe that was the true purpose of technology—to destroy society, slowly, but surely.
It’s 9 o’clock on a now sunny Thursday morning. I flop onto the couch, a new book in my hands, when suddenly, the massive television in front of me turns on. The big screen shows a news flash.
“You’re listening to The Global Breaking News Show. The time is nine in the morning. I am Iris Parker here with the news,” the news reporter—a seemingly middle aged woman with chocolate brown hair—talks unusually fast, anxiety clear in her voice. I shift in my seat on the couch. I wonder what’s going on. Maybe there’s a hurricane coming? A tsunami? Maybe a powerful earthquake? Oh god, what if it is about a disaster like that? The reporter continues, “This just in—people all over the world report of a major virus outbreak..” A virus? Ebola, perhaps? The woman on the screen hesitates, before speaking again, “P-please be aware of a technology virus which is ‘infecting’ gadgets of all types. Many gadgets are malfunctioning, and the numbers are increasing. We advice turning off your phone to avoid—“
I grab the remote and turn off the television, cutting off the news reporter. Why? Well, I’m not affected by this virus. So, why should I bother? I pick up my book again; I continue reading. I hear shrieks and shouts of the troubled citizens, but I could care less. I knew this would happen either way.
I stroll carelessly along the streets of Britain. My ears pick up faint cries and yells from the distance. Everybody seems to be troubled by the virus. I wonder if this is how it has to end. As a meer child, I expected the world to end with a sickness killing off all the humans on Earth, but now I see that will not be the case. The world will end, not with a plague wiping out the whole human race, not with global warming, not with a huge natural disaster. Instead—with technology. Technology, technology, technology. Is technology so important that we forget about everybody else? Is it so important that we forget about our own health? Is it worth wasting your whole life staring at a screen? Is it? I sigh heavily. People think I’m ignorant. Well, we’ll see who's the ignorant ones soon. I tilt my head upwards to stare at the night sky. Stars twinkle in the indigo coloured atmosphere. It comforts me a little, knowing that somehow, someway, my mother is looking after me, no matter what.
I stare at the wall, thinking hard. At times like these, I wonder if my mother would approve of this. I ponder if she would say I did the right thing. Would she? Well, I’ll never know, would I? Perhaps it was the wrong decision though. Maybe I just made it worse. I’m on pins and needles, did I make the right choice? “Maybe,” I whisper to myself anxiously. Maybe I did the right thing, creating that very virus that ‘killed’ all.