How will you and I connect if there is no electricity? How will you and I connect if there are no phones? How will a world made of 9 billion people exist when the only means of communication is the same as that which was available in 1850 (or 1750, when there was no postal service)? What if we no longer have motorized transport in most of the world? We would be stuck with our legs, or bicycles. Where would all of this leave us, back in some-distant-past BC because so few people know how to ride horses or use animals to pull wagons? In this, the third world has already outpaced us. How quickly the strands of our amorphously tangled web of connection would fall away if there was nothing to give us the power to connect with one other as we do in the modern world.
Human "leaders" seem hell bent on war and destruction, and it is not implausible their actions could lead to nuclear war. Fukishima is leaking and we can't stop it. Weather patterns have changed so drastically it is not just possible, but highly probable that many major catastrophic weather events will occur in the near future.
Disconnection is genuinely possible, disconnection on a scale not fathomable to most people. If we could not pick up the phone and call, if we could not turn on the computer and email or Facebook or tweet, if we could not mail a letter, if we could not drive our cars, if we could not take a bus, or train, or streetcar, or plane, what then? Would we walk across the street to the people who live around us because this was the only option left?
I can imagine human connection turning into a grand scale game of telephone, with each of us passing a letter to our neighbor to pass to their neighbor, on and on through various channels until our messages reached our loved ones. And what of those messages? How quickly we would turn to that which is really important. Perhaps catastrophic disconnection could lead to more meaningful communication.
I am not a fan of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic tales (although Take Shelter was handily one of the best films I have seen). I am not the doomsday sort, nor am I a frightened rabbit, quivering at reality and worrying over every possible scenario. Sometimes I leave my house unlocked. I don't carry mace. I pay attention, and I don't run with headphones, but neither do I live as if danger is lurking around every corner.
However, lately I have been afraid. It isn't a dithering fear. Rather it is a deep in my bones realization that the planet is in real danger on many fronts, and in some instances we are past the point of doing anything about it. For the situations that can be changed, those who can, won't. They have their own agendas and damn the world, they're pursuing those agendas. It isn't lost on me that many of the consequences we are now suffering and will suffer are the result of these same few ignoring what is best for most and taking what they will, but that is beside the point. We are here and even the most drastic action won't undo what has been done, and drastic action isn't even a possibility because those who need to won't get on board.
Which all leads me back to wondering how we will all connect when 95 percent of the means used to connect are gone. How will we get to those people we love the most? I can foresee a scenario where a person decides to set out on a journey across their state to go meet up with family, only to arrive at their destination and discover their family had left to go find them. This of course assumes the powers that be will let people travel away from their homes on foot or bike.
I sound like a doomsayer, but we must plan for this eventuality. The risks are real. We must all set up a plan with our loved ones, even if they are just across the city, but especially if they are across the state or the nation, or even further. Decide between you who will be the one to travel (if travel is possible) and who will stay put. Make friends with your neighbors because if there were a real emergency, they would be the people closest to you and the ones you would most likely get to speak to. Stock up on pencils and paper maps. Imagine life without the ability to plug in, literally or figuratively.
Set up the plan. It may never come to pass, but you'll be glad you did if you need it.