A piece of topical flash fiction. What do you hear?
It’s taken hundreds of years, but we were never in this for the short term.
We started small. Project Oscar Wilde. As an initial test, it was very successful.
These creatures, when they’re united, together, close, you can’t get through them. You can’t break those bonds. They have connections that spread so far you cannot get through.
Controversary is the key.
So Oscar. We put out a few plays, all controversial. One novel. Most controversial piece of all. Created argument within the social structure.
We released several other projects over the next hundred years. Slowly broke down some of the community spirit.
But it was never enough. The core nature won through. They would sit in circles reading to each other. They would get into groups and act out the plays for each other.
No, literature was not the way to get what we wanted.
We needed to go bigger. Much bigger.
At one point it looked like they were going to do it for us.
Catastrophic wars ravaged the planet. We watched as they repeatedly killed millions of lifeforms themselves. This pattern never stopped though it peaked and declined in periods. The wars brought leaps in technology. The second planetwide mass conflict planted the seeds of computerisation.
This was something we could use.
We had to work slowly so as not to arouse suspicion. We could afford occasional jumps, but all intelligent lifeforms being in possession of a computer was not something that could happen instantaneously.
Within fifty years we had televisual equipment in all abodes. Computer technology grew slowly but steadily. Some regarded it with revulsion, others with fascination. We were pleased with this. Polarisation of opinion would be the key.
We eventually built a world where all intelligent lifeforms had several computers of their own. Separate machines were used for social and professional functions and most importantly hand held computerised devices were seen as essential.
The creatures made it so easy. They themselves created computerised communities which almost entirely replaced live social and professional interaction.
It was time to test our theory. Project Dress was formulated.
We released images of a dress with different light patterns so that the creatures would see what appeared to be the same image in different ways. A sentimental backstory was included to pique interest. We used the data collected from computerised social interactions to release different images to different lifeforms to ensure that polarisation of opinion would correlate with opposing political, religious and moral viewpoints. We did not need to worry about contingency planning. There was little to no chance that one subject would show their personal computer device to another test subject thereby creating a situation where a subject had seen two different versions of the image. There was very little live interaction left.
Results of the experiments were favourable but we needed far more vehemence in the reactions. We used the online communities to gently influence the political landscape of the planet. It needed very little interference on our part. The existences on the planet had become so wrapped up in the computerised world, everything that was seen and heard on a computerised screen was believed to be the absolute indisputable truth.
We divided communities, from large geographical masses, to small primary socialisation units. We created irreparable breaches. It was time for another test.
Project Sound was simple. Based on the success of Project Dress we released sound clips with different wave patterns. One clip played the word Yanny and the other played Laurel, nonsense terms designed to bridge the language barriers that existed in this primitive world. We also released a series of slightly edited clips with accompanying scientific explanations as to why creatures were hearing different words to create further controversary.
It worked better than we ever could have imagined. It was clear that this was no longer a test situation. This was the final stage. People were listening to the clips for hours.
We managed to get the subliminal messaging within the clip very quickly. The creatures were still listening to the clip constantly. Still arguing about what was being said. Live interaction was again not an issue.
Within 72 Earth hours not a single intelligent human thought was being registered across the entire planet.
We are ready for you now.
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