Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2012 Hysteria, the New Y2K

Seems that pretty frequently I get notices in my email or see it on websites that there will be some kind of workshop for people concerned about the end of the world as we know it when the calendars roll around to 2012.

All this jazz originated from the fact that the Mayan calendars only go that far. Apparently the authors of all these breathless texts about it never thought of a simple explanation.

Just imagine people living a few thousand years ago, sitting around carving a calendar out of stone. Having done a bit of manual labor in my lifetime, I can picture these old stone carvers sitting around after a hot day of banging away with their hammers and chisels when one of them says "I'm tired. We've carved up to 2012. That's a lot of lifetimes ahead of our own. Let's go do something else. A few thousand years from now, they can get some other stone carvers to continue hacking away at these rocks."

And that's how the Mayan calendar came to an end at 2012.

But today there are lots of people selling books or DVDs or CDs or whatever about it, fretting about what it all means. Who else is worrying about it besides the people who have a product to sell? Well, OK, some of the people who bought those products.

I can't help but remember back to 1998 and 1999 when there was a certain segment of the population that was convinced that the world would come to an end or at least we would all descend into major catastrophes at New Year's Eve 2000 because nobody's computer clock would be able to move forward, and everything would grind to a halt. I always thought it was nonsense.

Back then, some of the hysterical ones would look at me earnestly and say "It's all true. You just don't understand." Of course, their understanding was also fueled by paranoid, fear based talk radio folks who were busy cashing in on selling survivalist gear to their listeners in preparation for the coming apocalypse. The worst of them warned people to stash truckloads of canned food in their basements and buy plently of guns and ammo to fend off the hoards who will want to steal your canned goods. They were even hawking night vision goggles so that you can see them coming in the dark. And hand cranked radios so that you could pick up the signals when the power went out. Of course, if all the power went out, how would radio stations broadcast? All you would get is a cramp from cranking. Oh never mind that. No sense letting facts interfere with your sales pitch. Back then there were also people running around hawking their books, recordings, and workshops about the looming disaster.

Not being particularly susceptible to fear mongers, I simply reasoned that all the corporations would not allow all the clocks and computers to stop and they would fix their programming. Being without electricity can make life hard for us when we can't watch movies, listen to music, cook on electric stoves, or keep food cold in the refrigerator, but electric companies experience power outages as an interruption in cash flow. After all, that's how they keep calculating interest on our credit cards, car loans, home loans and everything else. Computers run by the different branches of government figure out how to tax us. Do you really think that all these powerful interests will allow all this money making machinery grind to a halt? Of course not. Not then. Not now.

So what did I do New Year's Eve 2000? I partied. I drank, danced and drummed. I had a fire in the fireplace.

What were the Y2K afficionados doing? Probably hunkering down in their bunkers with their tons of gallon buckets of nitrogen sealed tins of beef, mac and cheese and green beans, digging the vibes from their own personal generators.

Next time I saw one of those characters who had been vigilant about warning me to prepare for Y2K and lay in my truck load of canned goods and cases of ammunition at a dance the month after New Year's, I asked him if he was tired of eating mac and cheese and canned beef yet. He had this constipated kind of look about him.

I just smiled and wished him "Bon Appetit!"

1 comment:

Wicked Lovely <3 said...

Hi Dan,
It's so funny that you posted this today I was just talking to my boss about this at work only a couple hours earlier. We were talking about the same things it's a sale's pitch. I really hope that's true though. The weather lately has me worrying. Anyways I just thought that was kinda cool.