If the internet ends this week, this story and any proof that I bothered to think about this, is going to go with it. But for now, while the lights are still on … what’s with the signs around Seattle stating that the “internet ends” on Thursday?
Using the internet, I poked around to try to find some answers.
First of all, Thursday is not just any Thursday. It’s 12022021, and that’s a palindrome date and there are a bunch of them this year — 22 in fact — that read the same forward and backward.
“The only two years in a century that contain 22 palindrome dates are the ones ending with 11 and 21,” Dr. Aziz Inan, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Portland, told the Farmers’ Almanac. “The year 2011 had 22, and in the next century, they will be found in 2111 and 2121.”
There are nine straight five-digit palindrome dates starting Wednesday, running 12-1-21 to 12-9-21. Thursday is considered the longest, at eight digits, when typed out as 12022021.
None of this explains that the internet will end in some Y2K-style freakout because of some strung-together numbers. But it has meme’d itself into the consciousness of some in Seattle who are spotting weird signs and posting about it on Twitter and Reddit.
Someone wrote a letter to The Stranger editor in July (that last tweet above) after spotting a sign on a North Seattle freeway overpass.
On the Reddit sub r/SeattleWA, a photo posted last month from the corner of Mercer Street and Boren Avenue seems to show a gentleman attaching one of the signs to a traffic pole. Here in the heart of the South Lake Union neighborhood, where Amazon has built a little business using the internet, the end of such an enterprise might be something for execs at the tech giant to watch closely.
“I’m sure it’s a paid gig for viral marketing. No bored teenager has the cash to be buying sign mounting supplies,” one Redditor said.
A website with a URL that sort of matches the signs features a map of the technical foundation of the internet. And there’s a countdown clock. Stick around and wait for that thing to expire and turn into something else at the risk of your own internet-viewing eyeballs.
The funny thing about whatever this is — Marketing campaign? Geeky tech-bro stunt? Real actual doom? — is that the reaction on Twitter and elsewhere to the images is sort of a collective “bring it on!”
When it comes to a world with no internet (not just a place in West Virginia with bad service) people seem … ready? Check out these Twitter replies:
“That’s a place I want to visit.”
“It cannot possibly come fast enough.”
“Oh thank God.”
As we’ve all lost sight of our own power to step away from the devices which bring us this dreaded internet, we’re left to cheer for a mysterious higher power to make the decision for us.
See ya Thursday?
Update, Thursday, Dec. 2: Well, the internet is still here. Hopefully the signs around Seattle won’t be for much longer. The website with an end-of-the-internet URL that may or may not be related to the signs did what we figured it might, and morphed into a plug for something. In this case it’s a book, billed as “a searing anti-cyberpunk novel” with a title we won’t print here. But hey, it’s on Amazon, where the internet is alive and well.