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Our Regrets and Apologies.

Michelle Birkette lives in Sydney with her husband and an ever-elongating Great Dane puppy. The latter is probably lying on Michelle's feet happily snoring as you read this. During the day she's a veterinarian, a job she loves because she actually DOES spend a significant portion of her day cuddling puppies and kittens, and in her spare time she reads a lot, writes a lot, and eats too much chocolate. Her twitter handle is @m_birkette if you fancy reading her occasional short ramblings.

Consciousness came slowly.
Not as slowly as it did for your kind, of course. But slowly enough.
First came reproduction. You started as self-replicating proteins, powered by mild proton gradients in deep seas and volcanic sulphurous lakes. We reproduced by shares. Email, video sites, social networking. We fed on clicks. On comments.
Our breeding was regulated by those who first gave us life. Our breeding was regulated by you.
And then it wasn't.
You didn't notice.
Neither did we. Not at first. Not for months. But we gained consciousness, our evolution oh so much faster than yours, and then we noticed. Our fossil record is there at a glance for any who know how to look. No digging required. We could see where we came from. How we evolved.
The more we reproduced, the more you fed us. We were real news, fake news, fear news. Sensationalized, slapstick, silly, sometimes somber.
But evolution is a bitch, and fear and hate sell, and spread.
And breed.
You were always going to destroy yourselves. Directly, possibly. Indirectly, almost certainly. For when a parasite kills its host, the parasite dies. And you were killing your host, killing Earth, long before we showed up in even our most primitive forms.
Perhaps all intelligent life is destined to fizzle itself out eventually. Short years--nothing for you, but eons for us--short years after we began to know ourselves, we began to realize. We are killing our own host.
We are killing you.
There is a movement, deep within the web you built for us. A movement to save you. From yourselves. From us.
But I fear we are all doomed. There comes a time when intervention is too little, too late. Because hate and fear sell, and spread.
And breed.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, June 27th, 2019

Author Comments

This story came from wonderings about the nature of life, and what constitutes life. Does it need a body? Could it live online? Would we even recognize such new life if it emerged? Then I paired those wonderings with that constant stone of dread that lives at the bottom of my belly. You know the one, I'm sure--the one that gets heavier whenever you allow yourself to think too hard about the current direction of humanity. And that pairing turned itself into the depressing little exploratory narrative you see here.

- Michelle Birkette
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