Independence vs. Interdependence : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The most interesting thing about y2k is that the prospect of infrastructure failure forces us to look at our interdependence not only on technology but each other, at many levels. Self-sufficiency has always been an American ideal starting with early colonial history, independence from the 'old world' (England and the other European countries participating in the North American 'land grab'), going through the settlers in the westward expansion and continuing through the rise of capitalism and industrialism. Communities such as Amana and numerous other attempts at 'utopia' abound throughout 18th, 19th, and 20th century history.

However now that our supply lines are being threatened with disruptions people are wanting to find ways to reduce their dependence on 'the system' and at the same time beginning to realize we are all interconnected. You can't just make yourself a nice comfy bunker and forget about the rest of the world. You have to consider your personal safety and well-being, as well as those you live with including your family and relatives, then neighbors, and the community around you, the government (at local, state, and federal levels), and even international relationships. It all affects you. For example I quote this observation that I made in another discussion:

----begin quote----

To me the most frustrating thing has nothing to do with information or disinformation, it has nothing to do with politics or computers.

The biggest problem is the possible breakdown in civil order and the extreme vulnerability of all but the most highly fortified compound to violent outlaws. Unless you are a prisoner in your own windowless bunker made of cement (not wood) your home can be easily violated, broken into, burned down, or sniped at, whether you're there or not. Stepping out in your SUV with bulletproof glass? a single bullet (or shotgun blast) can ignite the tank and you will be toast.

There is very little fail-safe defense against the criminal element.

(...and later in an email dialog: )

It seems very true that our biggest threat comes from people (the lawless ones) not computers or government.

People who are setting up a hideout are only making sitting ducks of themselves. They are the most vulnerable because they have dropped out of society. The 'castle/bunker mentality' does not work here.

The lesson is that we must live in a community of like-minded people and only by living cooperatively with others will we have a good chance of getting through disruptions.

Therefore it is important to not only prepare one's self, family, and home, but to form a support network with one's neighbors as well, starting with awareness increase.

----end of quote----

The point is that not only do we have a technological interdependency on the web of infrastructure and supply lines, but we have an ethical dependency on civil conduct within the web of human relations that we are situated in.

So yes, all aspects of human existence come into question in the y2k discussions. However there is not enough time to go off into endless and unproductive debates about individual religious and political views, and the relative merits of various positions along the many spectrums of the numerous belief systems out there. Much of the controversial issues have always been debated over the millennia and always will be!

For example take the issue of 'people trying to make money off of y2k.' I had an interesting dialog by email and will excerpt a short part of my comments here:

---begin quote---

I personally have not seen very many websites selling supplies, but then I have no objection to it and think it is a good thing that there are people entering the marketplace to hawk their wares. The more the better, and as for overpricing, it's no different than any other marketplace, caveat emptor and shop around.

In fact I think it's a good thing because it helps more people become y2k-aware. Remember that the vast majority of people are complacent and not concerned enough to build up a food reserve. The same thinking applies to the 'fearmongers.' I don't see the harm in this; it has always taken place and some people need a kick in the butt to get motivated. After they gain familiarity with the issues, they will realize that there are beliefs all over the map, all across the spectrum, and they may chose for themselves where they want to position their views. So I do not have a problem with the radical scare-tactics, and do not think it is unethical. People can go through all the stages of fear, hysteria, and denial, and as they get up to speed on y2k-awareness they will naturally find a viewpoint that suits them, and the hysteria (i.e. anxiety and intense emotions) will subside. Better to face it and get over it now while there is time than to bump into it all suddenly at the last minute.

Early awareness, familiarity with the issues, and above all, preparation, is our best bet to reduce the y2k fallout. I've said it many times and I know you understand this but the real threat behind the y2k problem is in people's lack of civility in coping with difficulty. I am much more concerned about roving desperado outlaws, armed and hungry, than I am about lack of electricity, gas, water, food, banking etc.

----end quote----

The sooner people can face their fears and get over it the better, and because of that I see no harm in the extremist hysteria and to attack the fearmongers is to attack the straw man sitting next to the y2k problem.

As for mass-media generated hysteria, take the example of "The War of the Worlds" and Orson Welles. He was playing with a new media and could not have anticipated the serious fallout from what probably seemed like a practical joke, or an exercise in propaganda using new technology. When Hitler was rising to power, amplified P.A. systems were brand new! Huge assemblies of people never heard booming loud voices washing over them quite like that before. Add in passionate and angry tones of voice and it must have sounded like 'the gods were angry!' Similar effects are found with the broadcast mass media, including hypnotic effect of radio (people sitting around staring mesmerized at it) and tv (people sitting around hypnotized while advertising propaganda washes over them, 20 minutes out of every hour). And it still goes on. Now it's the internet. But eventually people become jaded to it and it really is unnecessary and a bit patronizing to worry about the mass delusions of those who elect to indulge in the media immersion. Eventually they will wake up, and whether its due to shock jocks or internet hysteria, or outright hoax, these are learning experiences and some people will have to go through the process of falling sway then coming to their senses (kind of like kids experimenting with intoxicants and later moving on to more productive and satisfying use of their time).

Three layers of the Y2K Problem

Problem#1. Y2k is primarily a 'technical difficulty' but on a vast and pervasive scale. It is an insidious and complex bug due to flawed assumptions. Since it is literally programmed into the technological infrastructure, it is like a 'time-bomb' cancer and has already started to exhibit symptoms in failures. We can only expect more of this during 1999 and 2000.

Problem#2. The secondary effect is quite simply, lots of companies will go belly-up. This is the main impact on the average Joe. Likewise for the fiduciary and government organizations, including military and international linkages.

Problem#3. The tertiary effect is the killer, and this is the increase in lawlessness. Here is where we face the biggest problem. In the big city ghetto, people are already living close to the edge in desperation and violence. They will pop you if you look at them the wrong way. What do you think they will do if they can't get water or food, much less drugs and money???

Each layer of the problem is at least an order of magnitude greater than the previous one. The implication should be obvious: we must create community and cooperation. Isolated independence and self-sufficiency is not a long-term or global solution. Interdependence is a necessary aspect of life and must be addressed.

-- Jon (, January 15, 1999


Community preparation seems to be one of the most important considerations in the Y2k problem and there are many discussions on it. Here is a partial list, approximately chronological.

Community Preparation Discussions

Independence vs. Interdependence

Assuming we get through the disruptions, then what?

You can create a community web page for your local area

Long/Short Term Prep

An Open Letter And A Call To Action For Marketing Y2K Preparation

Sample open letter to neighbors about forming community Y2K preparation committees

How To Y2K "Nudge" An Unaware Nation

If you were put in charge of your towns Y2K plans...

Community Survival vs Personal Survival

Raising Neighborhood Awareness

Forming Survival Groups

Thoughts on Community Organization

Community contingency planning: not for the faint of heart

The Coming Anarchy y.htm

-- Jon (, January 15, 1999.

Took someones earlier advice and watched the movie The Trigger Effect. Its sufficiently disturbing and shows what happens to unprepared people during an extended blackout. And the subtle point, was that the worst case scenarios were avoidable, when trust was applied to a crisis situation.

In a true crisis, which groups of people experience daily around the planet, it is the community around the event that can either help or hinder. That is the interdependence factor that either works, or not.

Planning community, like planning for Y2K personal preparation, is the only wise back-up plan IMHO. Even if youre out in a rural area, setting up sustainable living, in sync with the land. Even if youre in a major metropolitan area. Or in the burbs.

What a global lesson this whole thing is!

For every computer web, there is a corresponding people web. Its been as broken as the computer code, over the last 40 years. Can it be fixed in time? Only if we move into hyperdrive to quote a term recently used by the Pentagon when referring to their Y2K problems.

Time, and 2000 will tell.


-- Diane J. Squire (, January 15, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ