Unless you are completely off grid these days you are probably aware of the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville and the conspiracy theories that are circulating around it. Now, I’m not going to venture into the who or why it happened, but I did witness some of the effects it had on people over 100 miles from the blast. The blast itself damaged over 40 buildings including the AT&T building, which appears may have been the primary target; disrupting data, cell and internet networks for over 100 miles in every direction.
We were seemingly unaffected out here in the mountains where I am, but venturing out to work the following day, things were anything but normal. The damage to the AT&T network had crippled the 911 system and much of the banking network. The majority of businesses were forced to go cash only including Walmart, Publix and pretty much every gas station in the area. Not only were AT&T customers affected, but other networks went dark as well as many share the same infrastructure. The range where I work was unaffected as we use a local provider, but throughout the day I heard customer after customer whining and complaining about their non-working cellphone.
On the way home that night I decided to make a quick Walmart stop, well, that turned out to be a really bad idea. I quickly realized that one entrance was closed forcing everyone to the grocery entrance where employees were stationed to not only play mask Nazi, but to inform you that they were only accepting cash. People were freaking out. One lady dragging 3 kids behind her was throwing an absolute fit at one of the employees, ‘what about my EBT card?!?!’ At this point the internet has been out less than 2 days and frustration is building and tempers are running short. Just a side note, apparently some people didn’t realize that if the banking networks are down you can’t just get cash from the ATM.
People panicking because they have little more than ketchup in their fridge and the kids need to eat. Panicking because McDonalds won’t take their debit card and they never carry cash. Panicking because they need gas to get home, but the station won’t take your card either. No internet, no Google, no YouTube, no online ordering; it’s all dead and they have no idea what to do. Panicking because a small bomb over 100 miles away has turned their little world upside down.
We as a society have grown soft, completely dependent on conveniences that didn’t exist even 25 years ago. Someone much wiser than I has said that we are only 9 meals from chaos, personally, I believe it’s likely less than that. Can you imagine how these people would react to a real disaster? What if the country does dissolve into civil war? Desperate people will do desperate things; that sweet couple next door would likely beat you to death with a hammer if it meant feeding their starving children. Look around; what if that had been the big one, what if the trucks all stopped rolling, what if that was the end of the supply chain; how long could you hold out? Take a step back, how ready are you really?
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.