It was memetic after all.
This all began with Dr. Vang being booted out of the Foundation. I started working with Dr. Vang 5 years after I got my bachelor's and getting recruited because of my cum laude and all that. He was a charming guy; humorous, but never losing his cool, and works really hard. It stayed this way until… what, ten? Twenty years ago?
He claimed he was under the effect of a stone in his desk. A stone that caused people to lose interest in work, to lose willpower for innovation. A procrastination rock. Maggie and I thought it was a joke—it wasn't the first time Dr. Vang created a fictional SCP to scare us. We didn't conduct any research on it; after all, how can you research a non-existent joke? The joke was forgotten, just like the stone itself, after a few days. I would not remember the stone again until many years later.
Dr. Vang started to make mistakes he never made. A misplaced book here, an overturned beaker there, it was all explained away with a wave of a hand. He was an old man, after all. Then came the rushed reports, the missed meetings, the general lack of work done. His powers were taken, positions degraded, yet no one dared to ask what was the reason. I tried to not let him get fired; after all, he was my mentor, and a respected researcher as I'd first known him. But even with my hard work I could not convince the O5 to let him stay.
He didn't even bother to pack his office, he just left it alone with a note on the door saying "For the next guy". His stuff got passed around the Foundation. I lost track where most of it went, but I know the O5 would be looking over all the things he left, just like what they did with Dr. Ganz when he died. I visited Dr. Vang from time to time, and I remain working for the Foundation to this day, but my heart just wasn't in it after Dr. Vang left.
A new researcher, while digging through Dr. Vang's stuff, found the long-forgotten stone. It is, technically, an SCP, albeit not designated any object class or number. The incompetent researcher didn't find any anomalous properties and just disposed of it. The Foundation moved on to more important stuff; after all, who cares about a dingy stone with a four line report? The rock was tossed aside, along with other regular Foundation garbage.
Soon, small problems started to pop up. A delivery that was supposed to arrive in a week took half a month due to decreased flights. An episode of a show was delayed months because of a lack of personnel. A highway that was planned to be built in 6 months dragged into several years. But no one noticed, it was all within normal. After all, what human doesn't make mistakes? We are fallible, after all. They aren't huge problems anyways.
A few years before my retirement I learned that the Foundation recovered the original stone along with several hundred identical stones from a secretive extremist group akin to the Chaos Insurgency. The group laid hands on it after the botched disposal; they found the cause of the stone's properties, and mass produced the stone. It was then sold to several other activist groups, who started secretly planting these stones into UN assemblies, G20 meetings, every conference for major organizations from APEC to NATO. Stealth planes flew over municipals, sprinkling cities with a thin layer of ground-up procrastinati in the dead of night. An attempt to weaken the major world players and bring down democracy. The world still went on, day by day, and humanity held itself together. The leaders continued to maintain peace with the extremists, and the ones who once believed that it can bring them victory were disappointed once again. There were no immediate effects, and the extremists soon turned to other means of bringing down their enemies.
The shadow of the stone lingered, seeping into the lives of every man, an effect that no one foresaw.
People all around complained about the general slag, but were just too apathetic to stand up for it. There's always someone else to blame, some other time to do it. Bills took years to pass, buildings took decades to build, and yet, no one seemed to care enough to fix it. Soon, activist groups fell apart due to lack of interest. Labor unions dissolved because no one had the will to fight for rights. Members of parliament bodies were still elected, but there were no bills to pass, no issue to debate, no conflict to resolve. Wars ended because the soldiers on both sides had lost the passion and patriotism that brought them there. The O5 council tried to prevent the spread of this phenomenon, to start the recovery, to let humanity stand back up on its feet, but no matter how hard they tried, the agents and researchers simply dragged the missions on for years.
We didn't die out. We just simply lost our will to improve.
Everyone just… didn't care, I guess. Life was good. Why change?
There's always later.