In the early part of the 21st Century it was Mumsnet, not Skynet, that triggered the eventual extinction of the human race. We weren’t killed off by the rise of machines, by artificial intelligences, we were wiped out in a memetic war between the breeders and the non-breeders. A war won by the wrong side.
For years our survival, as a race, had depended upon the breeders. Not just the babies they were having, but also the secrets they kept. The new parents kept it quiet, they didn’t tell their cool, carefree, single friends how hard it was having kids, and the dangerous truth – that being single and childless was actually a lot more fun.
But the meme was growing, multiplying exponentially, and by 2009 it had found a hold within the forums of mumsnet. This was the turning point. For years the idea had remained contained, within the pages of women’s fashion magazines, Hollywood films, TV dramas, the kind of places the young cool, fertile people didn’t have all that much time to hang out. But when the meme infected mumsnet it was a significant defection. The message was now being propagated by “knowledgeable sources”, parents who knew both sides, breeders who’d had their offspring, but hadn’t learned to keep their mouths shut. Young couples, around the time they usually came over to the breeder cause, were stumbling across this information in their google searches and were talked out of having children.
The counter-message, the “happy family” meme which had successfully kept selling us toilet paper, cleaning products, and keeping the human race alive until then, was suddenly on the ropes. Its traditional evangelists – the church, the politicians, light entertainment, had all been discredited. The war was lost by the early 2010s. The last human baby was born in 2035.