[image description: A small character with a black glyph and a red circle wedges itself into the mouth of a bloviating figure of intolerance and hatred. Steam issues from the silenced man’s ears and his eyes cross as they try to understand the sudden silence. Text reads, “140, Shush ~ The Small God of the Mute Button”]
If there’s one god who deserves the pity party they occasionally throw for themself, it’s Shush. The poor kid. Everyone used to love them, once upon a time. They were the salvation of parties, the soothing solution to crowded bars, the pause after the period. They were welcome just about everywhere, and everyone said that they were an infinite upgrade from Cato, small god of censorship, who had been so comprehensively hated that even his own worshippers eventually censored him out of being.
No. Shush would be better. They had to be.
And in the very beginning, they were. They reminded people that sometimes, if you can’t say something nice, it’s better not to say anything at all. They quieted crowds when important news had to be passed along, they silenced the room before the reading of a verdict, and they improved the world. They would have kept on like that, if not for the day when those who missed and mourned for Cato embraced them.
They became the small god of echo chambers the moment those inside realized that they could shut out everyone outside, becoming only a small bastion of sound and fury against a landscape of static silence. They were weaponized against voices of dissent and disagreement, and even when those voices could not be silenced, they were hurled like a rock, accusations of “fake news” and “drumming up fear” and “sensationalism” used to render sound into silence.
They only wanted to make more space for everyone to speak. And now they are used, as all gods of silence must one day be, as a new Cato. They will be forgotten and replaced, and now they can only hope, as they push back against a tide of bile and bigotry, that whoever comes after them will have a softer time ahead.
There’s nothing else that they can do.
Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.
Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities: