Does anybody truly take notice of how much technology influences their lives? We’re aware of it of course, how couldn’t we be? But do we ever appreciate just how much we rely on electricity and technology to get from one day to the next? It seems that it takes a significant event like the recent blackout in New York for us to take stock of our lives.
People may often speak about what it might be like to go back to the days where there was no electricity. They might joke that they would be “lost” without their smartphones and tablets. Yet the truth of the matter is such a time is really never far away. When the aftermath of tropical storm Sandy wiped out the electric board in New York, hundreds of thousands of people were left in the dark. Literally, for weeks. The answer to what it would be like to live with no electricity was no longer hypothetical. It was being lived by the inhabitants of one of the most well-developed cities in the world.
Was anyone prepared? Is there any way we could ever prepare ourselves for something like this? The whole infrastructure of New York City was uprooted by this blackout. Every aspect of people’s lives was turned upside down by losing electricity, something which we have become accustomed to taking for granted. How do you begin to prepare for such a seemingly unlikely event? Candles are fine, maybe a backup generator. But how far do you take it? Should people be looking for ground floor apartments in order to be able to gain access easily should the elevator be out of order? Should we stop relying on our multi-synced digital contact list and invest in an address book? Some preparation is easier than others to carry out.
Unfortunately, it seems that many people weren't prepared at all. Lives were not only disrupted, but lost. People were stripped of the basics needed to take care of themselves. Basics which over the years, have become powered solely or activated by electricity. Heating, cooking appliances and even the ability to call for help takes electricity. In a world where absolutely everyone relies on their cell phone to communicate with others, what happens when this device is taken away? Of course, certain measures were taken to try to sustain reasonable living circumstances. Candles were lit, traffic was directed manually instead of using lights, instead of using social networks to connect with friends, people visited each-others homes. Such interaction brought people closer together in the same way that any kind of adversity will instigate comradery amongst peers.
This has highlighted exactly how vulnerable and tentative the life we have become accustomed to is. New Yorkers pride themselves in living in a bustling, vibrant city. Yet one flick of a proverbial switch showed us all that the dark ages have not gone, they are simply hidden beneath a sea of man-made illumination.
At the date of this article, 3 weeks after Sandy touched us here in New York City. There are still Massive Buildings without power and entire zip codes without landline phone service “Hence; no internet”, They are still pumping seawater out of the WTC and the Path train station and my guess in serveral hundred businesses have closed down.
We are up and running now in the studio with limited phone service via cell technology and limited internet also via Wireless. I hope and pray that all of the families who lost more than I did can get themselves back up and running soon as well.