Last week, National Geographic aired a much-anticipated show (mockumentary?) called “American Blackout,” a fictional account of what would happen in America should an extended power outage occur (in the fictional version, the outage was due to a cyber-attack).
I watched an hour of the program and was so disgusted by the characters that I shut it off and wrote about it at the Examiner.
I figured that my usual readers would agree with my assessment, but I was wrong. The people who read the article disagreed with me entirely.
“Americans, National Geographic opined, would quickly devolve to a looting, violent gang of thugs committing plenty of ‘gun violence’ within 24 hours of a power outage.”
In my mind, Americans would rise to the occasion in such a crisis. After all, electricity is a relatively new development in civilization, and wouldn’t we help one another? Of course, some would exploit the situation with looting, etc. But would that group reflect the majority and not the minority?
I reflected further,
“While there seems to be an uncomfortable level of coordinated fear-mongering surrounding a potential attack on the nation’s power grid perpetrated by National Geographic, Americans would certainly be wise to connect with neighbors to devise a plan should there be an extended power outage.”
Am I wrong to have such faith in the American people?
One person wrote,
“10 days of no power would see cannibalizm [sic] in inner cities.”
“Writer seems like a person who is sheltered and doesn’t get out much.”
Someone else opined in part,
“We all rely on the electricity grid to go about our everyday lives if that goes down I can actually see anarchy on a great scale not seen for quite a while…”
The show came at an interesting time, as an “emergency drill” known as GridEX II is scheduled by utility companies in collaboration with the federal government in Mid-November.
I would like to put forth another reason for my suspicion. Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Rep. Markey and Rep. Waxman have all done some major handwringing about a looming cyber-attack (while bashing Congress for not providing funding to explore the danger – despite hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars already being used for that very research).
So, am I naive and “sheltered”? Would Americans turn into a bunch of predatory animals in the wake of an extended power outage? Would people be hiding in their closets praying for FEMA to arrive?