As I sit here with the sun out, power restored and waiting on the internet, TV and phone to resume business, I figured I would share a couple of things that were made obvious by our most recent Hurricane Irma experience.
1. We Take a Horrendous Amount of Things for Granted in Modern Life
The common person has luxuries that weren’t even thought of in a pre-cell phone era. Nothing makes this clearer than having your day to day comforts taken away by something you can’t control like a hurricane, landslide or wildfire. It is truly the intersection of modern technology and the challenges of our cavemen ancestors.
Due to its vulnerability in transmission, one of the first things to go out in a natural disaster is electricity.
Most of us are easily crippled by a lack of light even in familiar places. Just have your electricity go out and see how often you blindly flip the switch upon entering each darkened room in your house. Not to mention your gadgets like tablets, phones and laptops will run only a few hours without it at which point you are completely in the dark both literally and figuratively.
Our comfort level is quickly compromised. The air conditioning immediately ceases without it. In the south, in the summer during hurricane season, that means it gets uncomfortable quickly. The food in the refrigerator is only good for a matter of hours in it’s absence.
A lack of electricity also means a lack of internet connectivity into the house. It is remarkable how much we have come to rely on the internet for nearly everything: work, entertainment, communication, learning, workouts, meditation and the list goes on and on. It takes only a few hours to demonstrate how much of your daily activities are paralyzed without a technology that has only become prevalent in the past twenty or so years.
Of course these things can be mitigated by spending money on a generator, but I can’t justify having something around that I hope to never have to use and if so, only sparingly.
2. Television News Is Obsolete and It’s Tactics To Justify It’s Existence are A Danger To Society
Television news, particularly the national news, was made obsolete with the large scale adoption of social media. To compensate for this fact and to justify their existence they have become a doomsday insighting hype machine devolving tactically to capitalizing on the human inability to look away from a carwreck to ensure eyeballs stay glued to the television. Tuning into the three minutes of news I watched leading up to hurricane Irma I heard the following, “expect power in some areas to be out for several months” and “there will certainly be large scale death and devastation from this storm.” When did the news go from reporting what happened to breaking out their catastrophic crystal ball and prognosticating nothing but death and destruction for the human race?
Unfortunately this doomsday eyeball mongering is done at the expense of the public who each time without fail is whipped into such frenzy that the mere mention of a hurricane leads to empty shelves at every Walmart for a hundred mile radius, gas lines and a panic stricken sleep deprived and irritable population for weeks at a time as was the case leading up to Irma’s arrival. The funny thing is people fall for it over and over. This was the same story for Matthew last year. For twenty years, the pattern has repeated itself. “Were all going to die.” “Get out or get your supplies and hunker down.” Then the storm passes, the majority of residents have no residual damage (thank God) and the cycle repeats itself again and again. How much better off would we all be if the hype machine media didn’t exist?
So what do you do to stay up to date in case of emergency? Surely paying no attention to the situation will lead to your demise! Or not. I would say in the last twenty years of storms and various events here in Charleston, most people would have been much better off to have completely ignored the news. The best way to stay abreast of a storms progress is the NOAA http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ or similar scientific site. Here you can find the straight truth. My only caution with these sites, as with any prediction, is they aren’t very accurate more than a few days out so I wouldn’t bank on a forecast path a week plus ahead of time.
If you absolutely must know what is going on during a storm, the good news is that just about the entire population: rich, poor, young and old are now strapped 24/7 with cell phone cameras capable of still photos, recorded video and even live broadcasting via apps like Facebook Live so there is a good chance someone with enough battery left will be sharing what’s going on in your neck of the woods. Our personal favorite is a guy in our neighborhood who will hop in his truck immediately after the storm and drive around giving a live view of what’s going on. Nothing can beat real, first person, conflict-of-interest free accounts of what is happening. Through the storm we saw countless firsthand accounts via photo and video of just about every part of our town as long as our cell phone batteries held out.
Even with the hurricane long gone, the stories remain focused on the small parts of town that were devastated when thankfully most of us are doing a little cleanup and preparing to resume our normal lives within a matter of days. Please don’t mistake this commentary as downplaying the impact of those who lost everything or were severely impacted. There certainly are folks in that predicament just nowhere on the scale that the national news reporting would have you believe. Let’s face it, no one would tune in to the headline “City mostly good. A few neighbors still without power and water receding from the lower levels of their home.”
Benefit From Our Hurricane Experience
So what can you take from our latest hurricane experience?
# 1: Be Grateful for the multitude of things you take for granted on a daily basis. Actually, my suggestion would be to take account of all of the activities you rely on electricity for today as a gratitude activity.
#2: Avoid The News. Not just during storms, but all the time. Most of it isn’t what’s really going on, is slanted toward the negative because that is what sells and it generally will be more detrimental to your health than the impact of whatever malady that is being reported.