We'll all wait until it fixes itself, but it won't …
Everyone knows we’re kind of fucked already. Be it we’ve been fucked for a long time, or we’re going to be fucked in the future, an instinctive idea of what kind of fuckedness we as a species are up against is in our nature.
But recently it came to me — like a lightning bolt crashing into an important part of the electrical grid — we’re completely screwed as humans if something ever happens to the power.
It was a Saturday, an unseasonably hot one. Me, my wife and a gaggle of friends were out on the town at one of our city’s bigger music festivals. It’s an event that’s smack in the middle of an industrious part of the city, a trendy hot-spot where nobodies pretend they’re somebodies. Every summer, for one day, this area gets transformed into a pseudo-reality of live bands, cold drinks and overall mass confusion.
The showcase is a well-thrown event though. Employing the help of huge beer brands and promoters kind of has that effect. Besides, occasions like these aren’t anything new, major brands have logistics and planning down to a tee. Festivals often run smoothly enough, but sometimes, shit happens.
Late in the afternoon, there was a storm that rolled through ground zero. From what one guy stuck in front of us at a line later on had seen from his Uber earlier, a bolt of lightning hit dangerously close to the main stage. It was apparently the cause of a transformer going out. About a half dozen or so venues were completely out of power. This is the exact moment social madness ensued.
Here’s the thing: Whatever we use is connected to energy at this point. Without it, buildings are just shells of concrete holding tight humidity and the sound of silence — nobody knew what to say to their neighbors without any music shushing ‘em down. People grabbed at their phones, clinging to what was left of their connection to the abandoned village inside the wifi.
It took some time before people in charge triggered backup generators (or figured something else out completely). But this didn’t solve every problem. Most of the venues pushed all they could to the stages. The performers got the juice. The bars, the air conditioners, the bathrooms, did not.
“Cash only,” became a stuttered mantra from servers behind the wells. “Machine’s out.”
Nobody carries cash anymore. Nobody drank.
In the midst of summer, it doesn’t take long before the cold air circling large rooms makes its way out to the neighborhood. With hundreds of bodies working overtime without it, every refreshing getaway quickly becomes a forest of muck. It got hot. It got sweaty. It got pretty miserable.
But it was explicit which of the attendees didn’t mind. There were still incredible smiles lighting places up, as sparse as they were, acting as their own channel of electricity. It never mattered to them. Like they never noticed. But there was mostly a lot of bitching. Frowns painted faces — as if we weren’t still in a privileged situation, able to brush off a completely random event with a small bout of creativity.
The lights were out, the rooms stayed dim. Once the music began again, only half of the focus was back on entertainment. The rest were backlit by a glow coming from everyone’s lap. Like anxious scenes from a sci-fi movie gone wrong. Checking. Scrolling. Updating. The power will endure there for so long.
Only a few hours passed, everyone seemingly found a working money machine or a way to bum a drink — things tried to get back to normal. As normal as they could. Spirits slowly ramped up, the rooms cooled down with the moving sun, and everyone got back into the fake reality they had known before the lights went irrelevant.
No currency. No comfort. No entertainment and no luxuries. For part of the day, a world that could very easily be revealed itself.
Without electricity, we’re going to be narcissists without an audience, socialites without interaction. Worst of all, we'll all just sit and wait until the problem fixes itself. But it won't. We'll be untethered from our supply.
Without electricity, we’re completely fucked.