Update, 12-2-21: Hey, guess what! The internet didn't end. It was all for a book promotion.
Original story: Imagine a world with no internet. Sure, we'd miss the online shopping, the work-at-home ease, thebinge. But isn't it also kind of calming to imagine a world where we don't know how many friends are convinced Olive Garden will give them free food simply for linking to a Facebook post? Or which cousins believe the coronavirus vaccine is embedding ?
In my city, Seattle, random signs around town claim that Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, is the day the internet ends. On Tuesday, I snapped a photo of the message displayed at a closed sushi restaurant in my neighborhood. In the same lettering the restaurant once used to advertise that they were "now closed Mondays" or to hype their gyoza, the sign now reads: "12022021 INTERNET ENDS."
I found the sign confusing -- don't even ask how long it took me to figure out that 12022021 was the date Dec. 2, 2021 -- so I tweeted it out, writing, "The internet ends Thursday apparently so get ready I guess."
"Damnit man!" one person tweeted in reply. "I was just gettin' the hang of it!"
Turns out the sign I saw wasn't the only one displayed in Seattle, where the internet's demise would mean a heck of a lot of people were suddenly unemployed. The signs are in a variety of places and don't all look the same, but they express the same date and message: Pack it in, internet, you had a nice run.
On the Seattle subreddit, someone posted a photo of what seems to be a man climbing a Seattle street sign that has one of the "internet ends" signs. It's not clear if he's the one who attached the sign, but maybe.
"Looks like an attempt at viral marketing," guessed one Reddit user. "Can't be a movie, nothing big's coming out that day."
Maybe it's not a big movie day, but it's a cool day in numerical terms. 12-02-2021 is the longest palindrome date of the year, meaning it reads the same backward and forward. (This doesn't work in other parts of the world, where the day is written before the month.) There are, but this one works for all eight digits, while some of the others only work if you shorten the year to two digits. So maybe some company decided to play off the back and forth of the date for a marketing stunt promoting a or something.
Kurt Schlosser, my friend who writes for Seattle tech site GeekWire, discovered a website -- 12022021endofinternet.com -- that could be related. Right now, it features a 1977 Arpanet diagram and a clock counting down to 2 p.m. PT Thursday. So we not only have an end date, we have an end time.
I reached out to the email address connected to that domain and will report back if anyone responds. Although if the internet does end Thursday, I may have to notify you all by letter.