News Blow

Reading Chuck Klosterman’s Brief History of the 21st Century (via kottke) I was left wondering (as so often with future-fiction) how much of it is really about the modern day:

A report from the American Medical Association expresses fear over the proliferation of news blow. “It appears,” the report concludes, “that prolonged consumption of news blow renders the user incapable of relating to any person not engaged with an identical strain of the substance.” Society is no longer separated by geography, culture, or language; humans now group themselves solely through the shared use of specific info drugs. A divide emerges between Americans on the West Coast (who primarily smoke news blow synthesized in rural California) and people living in the East (who snort a more potent strain developed in Baltimore). Over time, people in New York and Los Angeles find themselves unable to communicate about anything — they now understand the most basic building blocks of information in totally different ways.

Of course it’s tricky to believe that the US would break into halves along east/west lines (I’d expect a more patchwork effect), and really, the whole piece is rather US-centric. But it’s an entertaining and quick read.

News blow continues to splinter society. Though technically still a union, the U.S. splits into two autonomous halves that have no relationship with each other. The same thing happens in Europe (now divided into seven vague provinces), Russia (which fractures into five regions), and Africa (which becomes five superstates, plus Madagascar). Select diplomats attempt to bridge the gaps by consuming multiple strains of news blow simultaneously, but these attempts lead to depression and catatonia.

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