Lets Pretend This Changes Everything. Again.

In the year 2012?

It happened sometime around 10am PST, I was sitting behind the laptop doing my daily check of the usual sites when I started to notice a strange trend. Apple was stationed in nearly every “currently trending” slot on Twitter. Several blogs I read had already produced headlining articles about the unveiling of the new iPhone. Throwing a few numbers out there; Engadget, typically runs 19 articles on its main page, as of 14:08 PST 16 of them are iPhone related and 14 of those are directly related to the launch of this product. Every major news source had at least one article on its main page that was peppered with comments. My Twitter feed was filled with praising Tweets and ReTweets and comments had begun showing up on Facebook.

A storm like this is easy to weather, walk away from the computer for a little while and do some chores around the apartment. Phone a friend and arrange a meeting for coffee. Pop in a movie. Listen to some music. Do anything except pay attention to what’s happening online. The joygazm will eventually pass and things will return to normal. “Normal” being a continual bombardment of sometimes-clever commercial marketing campaigns designed to generate hype, remind people that the product still exists and that they should buy it.

Then my phone rang.

Being an unemployed person actively hunting for work, any mid-day phone call has the potential to be life altering. (I’m grossly over estimating the importance of one phone call, but to the unemployed a call has the ability to bring a lot of change.)

It was an automated voice message from a Fido customer instructing me to “check out the Apple website”.

I don’t want to jump to extremes, but this illustrates there’s a good chance that as a species, we are fucked. The Information Age has been kind to us, but imagine what’s going to happen when this speed of information begins to infiltrate absolutely every fiber of our being – it’s happening already and progressing rapidly. Imagine if The Cuban Missile Crisis happened tomorrow. I don’t remember how tense the situation was, I wasn’t alive, but I hear it’s probably the closest we all came to surrendering the planet to the cockroaches. Now imagine if a media frenzy equivocal to the release of the iPhone 4 centered around something a little less frivolous? Maybe that phone call would have been “Cuba has the bomb” and all the supporting information could have easily been plucked from online news sources and blogs with semi-doctored photos and uninformed, but seemingly rational, opinions. We’d have a situation brewing in a matter of hours that could severely impact us all. Humans like to panic and we are conditioned to be fearful. I remember where I was when I heard about 911 and I shudder to think of how I would have reacted to the news if it happened in 2010.

It’s only a matter of time before some clever politician – maybe even a clever terrorist – figures out a way to dupe us all into believing hype just long enough to react to it by doing something incredibly stupid, my guess is that it’ll have something to do with an election.

~J

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