Dylan Griffin's Story

Now that you have wandered through Dylan's room, it’s time to piece together his story.

Although he was a teenager born in 2035, January 1, 2000 was the most defining day of Dylan Griffin’s life. His mother remembered it clearly: the clock ticked down to midnight on New Year’s Eve of the prior millennium, and the sparkly ball descended in Times Square. Confetti floated in the air for a split second before the internet went down. Computer screens crackled and faded to black, search engines instantly became useless, and within a few hours, satellites began falling from the sky. The Y2K fears were founded, as every computer in the nation had clicked over from 12/31/99 to 01/01/00, time had essentially started over in the cyber world, erasing all digital memory and rendering networks, and everything that depended on them, useless.

The government created an Emergency Internet Restoration Committee (EIRC). Six long weeks passed as the economy plummeted and many people were out of work. Finally, they announced by radio that the internet was restored, but it was not the same. Y2K had permanently diminished the internet’s capacity. Bandwidth was severely limited, probably forever. Thus, a rationing system would be required. Every U.S. citizen would receive an equal monthly ration of online time and would access the internet using their social security number. When the allotment ran out, people had no choice but to wait until the next month to go online again. No one had seen anything like it before. Even back in the early 2000’s, Dylan’s mom explained, when cell phone use was regulated by minutes, it was always possible to buy more time on the open market, and cell phone providers worked quickly towards providing unlimited talking time.

At first, Dylan’s mom had explained, the nation relished the requirement to limit time spent on the internet. People enjoyed the outdoors, teachers embraced hands-on learning, and the economy actually grew as workers learned to be more efficient.

By 2002, however, a black market appeared. Stolen social security numbers -- and the rations that came with them -- were auctioned to the highest bidder on the dark web, and the poorest citizens regularly sold their internet time for just a few dollars so that they could buy groceries or other necessities. As the wealthy gained more online access, disparities of all sorts grew. Wealthy students could spend more time on school assignments, earning grades that ensured their admission to the best colleges; wealthy adults clocked-in more hours at work or in the financial markets, earning money that would buy the time they needed to make even more money. The upper class also enjoyed high-quality television, movies, and music online, while the lower class were relegated to the digital hearth, relying solely on the radio for news and entertainment.

This had been Dylan’s reality for his whole life. However, his natural aptitude allowed him to accomplish online assignments in minimal time, and he had a favorite radio station, DI.FM, that he tuned in to during all his waking hours. Dylan used any of his spare online minutes studying American history, especially the Progressive era. He was inspired by the individuals who demanded protection from the government, which had essentially turned a blind eye to the suffering of its poorest citizens at the hands of the wealthy.

Click on the birthday cake to hear about Dylan’s 17th birthday