When Technology Fails

sftfTechnology is all is all around us, from our smart phones, tablets, notebooks, Wi-Fi connections, internet, etc.  Where ever we turn we either use it or use something that uses it. Think about paying for gas at the pump, there is technology involved, you swipe your card, the pump is connected to an internet connection to verify that your card is valid to charge. Same with the grocery store, Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot.  When you walk up in the morning, how many of you first turn off the alarm then check your phone for messages?

We are so intertwined in technology that I have to wonder, what would we do if technology failed?  I have said for years that there is a part of me that would like to go back to the early eighties.  When there was a pay phone on almost every corner and you went to the library to do research.  Ok, so life was not as convenient as it is now, but then again we didn’t know any different either.  If we lost all our easy access to information and communication, how would we all handle it?

Take this last Friday, Google had a Gmail outage that lasted between 25 to 55 minutes for approximately 10% of their user base. Now first of all Gmail is a free service a free service and people freaked out and went to Twitter about the outage which was also report on several mainstream news sites including NBC.  Second, it is just email which is not supposed to be instantaneous, it is suppose to be a convenience, a documented approach to what used to be done over the phone or even sent through snail mail.  I have also experienced the same type of “the world is coming to an end” expressions when corporate email at the company I work at had gone down.  It’s just email, why is it we have become so connected to email?

Another example, last year, there was a severe storm that went through the area.  It knocked out power to a good many people, I still had power and was watching the local evening news as they covered the story.  They interviewed a well dress man outside his home, in the interview this man went off stating that the power had been out for nearly two hours and that it wasn’t acceptable.  He went on to say his internet is down and that was an unlivable condition, he was heading to a hotel that has power.  It was only two hours and he was freaking out on the local evening news. Two hours, and this man looked like he was ready to hit someone because his internet was down.  They interviewed another lady and she had a similar stance and said that she had lost cell phone coverage, the news lady doing the interview said, that was due to the wide spread power outage and the fact that some cell towers didn’t have backup power and others were overloaded.  Again the lady being interviewed was very upset and stated she was switching cell carriers due to the outage.  This storm was so severe that some were without power for up to four days and these people were already freaking out after just a couple of hours.

A power outage means, no gas, both in the fact the pumps can’t pump nor can they validate a card swipe.  No ATMs, which means you can’t get cash.  If and I do mean if, a store is open, it will require you pay cash, as they won’t be able to process debit/credit cards. Any small disruption in how technology works, such as a loss of power has a huge cascading effect.  Granted, a power outage is usually fairly short lived, from a few hours to maybe a few weeks.  Anything much past that, and certain areas would begin to get power back so you could travel to a local area that has power.  What if it is worse than a power outage, something like an EMP?

Have you considered what you would do if you didn’t have access to your smart phone or the internet for a very long period of time?  Are you so used to using technology that you forgot how to live without it?  Some may not even know any different way of life than to always have the internet and smart phones.  Honestly, there is a part of me that would be relived if I could disconnect for a bit, I think life was much simpler before we all got so connected.

Here are some tips to help you start preparing now in case technology fails for whatever the reason.

  1. Make sure you have an old fashion address book, the kind that is actually on paper. So this may not be an actual book like we had back in the eighties, but it would be a good idea to print out your contact list and insure you know where that list is and insure you keep it up-to-date.  Once you make and update to your contact, print out the list again.
  2. Keep a current phonebook handy.  I have to admit, one shows up on my door step every year, and for years I just threw it out.  Now I keep it just in case I can’t look someone or a local service up online.
  3. Make sure you have cash on hand all the times, I mean more than a couple of bucks.  You should have enough cash on hand to be able to pay for anything you need for at least  week preferable longer.
  4. Always keep your gas tank full.  I fill up as soon as I am down a quarter tank.  Chances are gas will always be cheaper today than tomorrow so filling up often isn’t costing me any more money.
  5. Have paper Bibles, medical books, encyclopedias, and other research books on hand, for that matter have some good reading books as well.  If technology fails, that may mean, no TV or Netflix so you will need something to entertain yourself.  If the internet goes down you may need to do some research either for an injury or something more in depth.  We are so used to doing a quick Google search and having information quickly on hand, with real books, the info is still on hand.
  6. More on entertainment, so with no TV, board games would be fun for the family so have some of them around.
  7. Bicycles, with no gas flowing, sooner or later your car will run out.  If it is an EMP as the issue for the technology failure your car may not run at all  have a good bicycle available to you and make sure you have a tire pump as well.
  8. Basics, don’t forget the manual can opener.  I am amazed how many people have electric can openers, personally, I don’t see the point, I have always used a manual opener.  If you rely on an electric one, make sure you have a couple of manual openers, otherwise you will be scrapping the top of your can on the concrete to get it open.
  9. Seeing and cooking.  You will need candles to see at night and a good camp stove the works with either propane or wood, after a while you may run out of propane.
  10. Practice, have a not technology day for the family a couple of times a month, no cell phones, internet, video games, TV, even shut the power off to the house.   It would be good to get the family used to life if technology fails.

These are just a few ideas on how to better prepare incase technology fails for whatever reason. I have not listed everything, and ask if you think of something that is not listed here, please leave a comment with it, that will help everyone.