Are We Really Ready For The Information Age? (Sandy part 3)

I had planned to write my third posting in the Sandy trilogy the night after Sandy actually passed by, but as it turned out to be, that wouldn’t go that easily. Because, as the world probably had noticed, Sandy hit us hard… real hard. As it was first predicted once it was sure that the hurricane would hit the eastern seaboard, about 60% of all scenarios showed the hurricane pass our little town between New York and Philadelphia. But we were lucky… Sandy turned earlier, and it passed just south of Philadelphia, leaving us in a relatively ‘safe’ area where we wouldn’t be hit with the torrential rains, and where the wind gusts would already be lower in the early evening.

Let me be clear, with us there were some other towns in the same ‘calm’ of the storm… Seaside Heights, NJ was one of them, the little touristic town on the waterfront that just washed away. Our ‘calm’ weather left this little town with three ancient, humongous trees crashing into houses, cut power cords, and a town just cut off the power grid. Gladly, many stores immediately sold emergency generators for good prices, only to be stolen again in the middle of the night. And this all was just in our 3-blocks of the town. There was no fuel, no stores, food rotted away in front of your eyes, leaving a lot of people without something to eat, and not able to get it. But we were lucky.

We could also move along, drive to my parents-in-law and spend some time hooked up to electricity to tell friends and family we were safe. And this trip through this aftermath of just the ‘calm’ spot of the storm, showed us many trees uprooted, houses cut off from the world, and most people dodging a bullet when a tree just missed their house when it came crashing down.

But being with my parents-in-law, I decided to follow up on the news what else was happening in the aftermath of Sandy. And being from the Netherlands, I made the mistake to read this on a Dutch website called nu.nl. That reporting was actually pretty good, but I the mistake was made reading the responses of the public to this. And this is really why I, not only an IT enthusiast, but professional for over 20 years now, really start to doubt if we generally as a people can handle being in the information age.

Now, I know that always, in general, 80% of all the people of the population is not intelligent enough to form their own opinion. Which is fine, it is not a problem, we all have it. But I am afraid there is even a huge amount that really do not know what to say and just blurt out anything. And these are the people often who want to have them heard the loudest. And I know I should not anger myself with it. But more than once I have mentioned my doubts in social media, that everyone should just blabber about anything. But I am afraid, from the people who do, a large amount is not able to deal with it, doesn’t know how to behave, and cannot resist under the veil of anonymity to just cause a riot.

So, I know I should know better, but I want to quote some of the people who posted there, and want to respond. I know there are enough people online who are absolutely okay and perfectly wonderful online, but I want to put some people in the spotlight who clearly deserve some attention… so, let me give them some…

The following postings have been translated from Dutch, but you can find the originals at this page.

#18 – Well, that is what you get when you buy bombs.

#19 – I know another country where they can build good dikes, but if you, in the USA, see your government as the enemy, you can expect this to happen.

#20 – Hah! Yes, we as Dutch know a lot about dikes and water damage, but if you want to be arrogant and egoistic as an American and keep telling yourself you belong to the smartest people in the world, you have to figure it out yourself.

#33 – The power grid in the US is on the same level as ours was in the ’50s. Nothing underground, all the little wires above ground. So, now people get electrocuted because of that stupid system. Reason: capitalism. Keep everything as cheap as possible to beat the competition, while we have all our cables nicely underground.

#36 – Villages. That is what you get if you don’t do anything about the flooding-prevention systems. With taxing too little and using it. Poor people. Saving on the firefighters and when a fire hits, complaining that there is no help.

#48 – @17 What do you mean, irrelevant? In the USA they have only one goal, and that is making money. To put all the power cables underground cost money and they don’t want to pay that. Now they will feel the pain. Short-circuiting, explosions in transformers, homes, etc. An investment in this is a must. If they don’t do that, this will not be the last time.

#58 – Bah, it is terrible but it doesn’t keep me awake at night. Mother nature is less shocking than bombs, hunger and war. Human hands. Although, it is about human lives. But I am also done with the semi-hype about ‘We Love New York!’.

#72 – God punishes the USA. Wonderful! That’s what you get when you kill innocent people, attack countries without reason, oh… oil is the reason! Sorry people!

#93 – Wear a pair of rubber boots, then you will keep your feet dry.

#96 – Too bad for the population. You don’t wish this on anyone. But the USA doesn’t want to do anything about the global warming. They don’t care about anything. Well, these are the consequences…

#100 – They only invest in oil and the accompanying wars. There is not a dime spent on infrastructure and flooding-systems…

As you can see, I did not post all the postings, simply because a lot of people do belong to the population who understand the medium. Having lived here in the USA now for 7 years exactly today, I spoke with so many people who did not understand why other countries look so negative up to America, and asked me what they should change. And they shouldn’t think that way… don’t think that everyone writing something negative online has a clue what they are talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that these people who have no clue, are only in other countries. Absolutely not… I can point in many, many directions…

The bitter truth is, to all who had no clue what they were posting about;

– Sandy passed, ripped an underground gas-line, caught fire, and burned 111 homes down in no time in Queens. These people have lost everything. This is not a wealthy part of the city. 

– Seaside Heights, NJ. Sandy doesn’t even pass there, but the powerful waves took out the pier and claimed it to the sea. This pier was at least as strong as the pier in Scheveningen, the Netherlands. Every ride on the fair was owned by someone who simply earned his or her money with it. It was their job. That is washed away, maybe not even yet paid off.

– New York City did not get a straight hit, but the rising water and powerful waves found their way into the city, filled many basements, car garages, stores. People have lost their companies, inventory, cars, houses, furniture. Businesses out of business means people who do not earn a dime, in a time this is so needed.

– As everyone who actually has been in America knows, and actually anywhere in the world where the country is not made on clay like the Netherlands, it is practically impossible to put the power grid underground. There is simply no possibility too. Not only because of the money, but because of hurting the environment. As almost any other country, the ground is a rocky layer. And true, we don’t tax enough to get the money to put the grid underground. The reason is simple, that would mean taxing people for their whole income. And for us, people anywhere in the world, let me make it clear that the Netherlands power-grid is also mostly above ground, but most of them forget this while they drive by the huge masts along all the highways.

– Although savings are made in also the fire department, here there is nothing but praise for the fire fighters, the police and the ambulance. And not just them, we have met so many people, immediately in the aftermath, that just help out. A carpenter that helps with their tools to saw up the trees so they can be logged away to get the electricians to hook up power again. Stores handing out food and free drinks to just give people something. And within days the initiatives will start for donations by people in the locations hurt by Sandy, for people in the same locations.

Because as I have learned to see though, bypassing all the political stuff, the average American, when these kind of things happen, is the most real-life social people that I have ever met. Is that maybe a little patriotic? I am not an American. I am still 100% Dutch. But I am proud to live here.

And I wish all the best, strength and luck to everyone hit by this mayhem.

Tomorrow, I will expand my trilogy to a quartet; with the posting ‘Land of Confusion’. Because, there is something weird though that can only be in America in the aftermath…

 

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