The Darkest Timeline
In Patricia Lockwood’s book, No One is Talking About This, there are many, and sometimes vague references to things that have happened on the internet. The book is about a woman who becomes well known for her social media posts that go viral. She refers to the internet as “the portal.” This story is told in a very fragmented way to resemble what it is like to be on the internet or on social media apps.
On page 32, Lockwood mentions “A million jokes about wishing to leave this timeline and slip into another one…” (Lockwood 2021). At this point in the book, there are a lot of references to the political climate of the time. It was during Donald Trump’s presidency. The chapter that this reference is in starts off with the narrator talking about the police and trying to force herself to hate them. A lot of this chapter is dealing with what the political climate was like at the time, as well as what it was like to navigate the internet during Trump’s presidency.
When Lockwood mentions “to leave this timeline” (Lockwood 2021), she is referencing a line from the show Community. It is in the episode “Remedial Chaos Theory”, in which reality splits into 6 timelines. As the episode proceeds, the outcomes of the different timelines are shown. One of these timelines that have been popularized on the internet is the timeline in which Pierce accidentally gets shot with the gun that was in Annie’s purse and Britta accidentally starts a fire when she gets out of the bathroom and sees what is happening. There is a popular GIF of the scene (aka the feature image of this post). The darkest timeline is also a reference to a multiverse theory. It states that there are multiple universes outside of the one we are in and that the universe we are in is the worst (or the darkest) timeline.
In the same paragraph, Lockwood says “The jokes were wistful, because this timeline seemed in no way irrevocable.” (Lockwood 2021). During the Trump presidency, many users on Twitter made jokes about this being the darkest timeline. For example, in the post below, jokes about us being in the darkest timeline because Kim Kardashian was in the Oval Office.
The joke expanded, as most jokes on the internet do, and users started making other jokes about being in the darkest timeline. For example, in the post below, the user jokes about us being in the darkest timeline because of the tweet that Dr. Phil made.
Despite the popularity of this reference being around the time of Trump’s presidency, users still frequently make jokes about this. For example, in the post below, the user is responding to the news that Facebook’s new company name is Meta. This tweet was only posted the day before this blog post was posted.
Patricia Lockwood, No One is Talking About This, New York: Riverhead Books