There exists a world very similar to ours, in all but the fact that 60 years ago a cosmic conflagration bought Glupins into their realm.
Glupins are beautiful flowers, but wherever Glupins grow, the Glupin God, GL, follows.
GL is a deity much like the old monolatric gods populating the south-east coasts of the Mediterranean. He's a benevolent deity, assuming you respect his book, religiously, literally.
GL's book begins with a simple phrase:
Anyone to exchanges information with another must also exchange a Glupin petal following the appropriate rituals, or else I shall call forth a great vale of silence upon them.
The "appropriate rituals" for Glupin petal exchanges make up the rest of the book, 49 pages of utterly boring tatter.
Upon meeting a friend which one hasn't seen in 2 months, but has seen in the last year, the taller of the two must give the petal first, holding it by the thick side, and not before circling his face thrice with it, then the second must thrice circle his own face empty-handed, accept the petal, then provide his own, holding it by the thinnest of sides. This does not apply if meeting over tea, coffee, or as part of a friend group. See pages 23, 11 and 45 for those situations.
Upon writing a book aimed at an adult audience, one must count the number of words starting with "T" and ending in "V" within the book, for each of those words one must burn a Glupin petal before publishing the book. When giving the books to an editor, the standard letter-exchange ritual applies, see page 46. This ritual also applies to blog posts with the caveats mentioned about digital communication on pages 47 to 49.
Happily enough though, Glupins are not pretentious nor rare. One can find them growing in a desert oasis, alpine valleys, the boreal forests, and verdant sunbathed plains. So if you're willing to pay 2.50$ to a street merchant, you've got Glupins to last you for at least a month of socializing.
But many people, when met with this strange new world, protested and were absolutely disgusted at the idea of performing the ritual. They promptly tried speaking with their friend and GL cast his veil of silence, rendering them mute for a few hours, they tried again, and again they were muted.
Many people were, however, reading the book. Some managed to "get it" well enough that in a few weeks they were once again fluently socializing.
Also, upon further inspection, there's a very useful snippet on the 3rd page:
If one cannot or does not wish to perform the ritual, they can designate another person to perform it for them.
Thus Glupin exchangers started popping up, initially they were reserved for the rich and powerful, who couldn't be bothered to read the books but could afford to carry a Glupin exchanger with them everywhere.
It even became a status symbol, the elites would signal their wealth and power by the fact that their time was precious. Spending a few weeks internalizing the book, or checking it every time they wished to talk, was not economically optimal.
Soon enough Glupin Exchanges started popping up, people would hire a bunch of Glupin Exchangers, put them all into a private arena, dress them in an easy to spot grey hoodie and a pair of jeans. People could come into the arena by paying the required 10$/hour. Whenever they wished to start a new conversation, they could just signal the nearest couple wearing a grey hoodie, and within 2 minutes the ritual would be done with and they could start chatting.
However, this was still too contrived, and better business models came about. Companies found a way to officiate the proxy Glupin exchange over the internet.
Popular video calls apps, whenever a conference was about to start, added 2 Glupin exchangers to the call. They'd perform the rituals as a proxy for the participants and then the conversation cloud begin.
However, this was still too expensive, some Glupin exchange CEOs figured out that, since their companies are a conduit for communication, they might as well get into the business of information gathering.
Now one needn't even pay a measly sum to start a chat, all they have to do is leave a public record of their conversation for the companies to data-mine and watch a few ads.
Glupin exchanger became a well-paying profession, even respectable in some circles. To become a politician, you need connections. To become a doctor, you need rich parents and nerves of steel to support you through med school and residency. But to become a Glupin exchanger? You need only be smart enough to read and memorize the book.
The Exchangers and Exchanges were viewed as a way to lift people out of poverty, an engine that drove the economy forward.
The richer countries would have talent scouts looking for Glupin exchangers in poorer nations and bringing them abroad, or having them work remotely.
The poor countries saw an influx of people learning the book of GL in order to exploit this opening. People were rather happy with this turn of events.
Some bastions of crazy people remained, people clamoring about how reading the book of GL only takes like a week, and communicating is such an important facet of life that everybody should be able to do it without assistance.
But alas, using a Glupin exchange was much easier. After all, most of them are free, they only want some abstract concession in the form of advertising to you and tracking your every word.
Some Glupin exchangers started trying to tell people that it's so easy, they could just look at them, try to figure out what they are doing, and they'd be able to learn within a month.
However, those Glupin exchangers often found themselves out of a job pretty soon. It paid to claim that Glupin exchange was this very complicated ritual that took half a life-time to learn
Glupin exchanging academies started popping up, where exchangers were trained for 2 to 6 years in order to learn the art. Some crazy people claimed: "It's literally the same book! It took us like 1 week to learn it, why do you need 4 years ?".
But those people shunned as idealists and elitist; "Not everybody can learn the book of GL in a week you know, if they do it'll be rushed and they'll lack some fundamental understanding of the concepts, they'll make horrible mistakes".
There was even talk of regulating Glupin exchanging such that only people trained in the academia can do it. Stories were coming out of kids trying to talk by performing the rituals on their own and being rendered mute for the day. The media ate it up, the academies were ecstatic with the idea, the rusty gear of the political machines were oiled up and churning at a slow but steady pace.
No doubt in a dozen years, even if you have read the book of GL, performing the rituals without being certified will become illegal. People will still do it in small hidden circles, but once the old generation dies it will become taboo.
Soon enough, 1/5th of the world's economy revolved around Glupin exchangers, training them, contracting them out, employing them on mass-marketed products; providing the accounting and lawyering services for them; verifying and regulating them, arguing politics about them.
From up-high GL pondered at the picture unfolding before him, all he had wanted was for people to spend a bit of time reading a book... and now, now this.
People think being a god must be a boring affair, and when you think about it in a reasonable way it ought to be rather boring. But people are anything but reasonable, that makes being a god anything but boring.