February 18, 2013 8 Comments
By now everyone has heard about the so-called poop cruise ship that spent most of last week in the Gulf of Mexico. This ship had around 5,000 passengers and crew, lost power after an electrical fire. Not only did they lose most of their power, they lost control of their sewage system, causing backups and general problems. This story is interesting for a couple of reasons. First is the media over hype, which went as far as to suggest that a cruise ship power failure was like Hurricane Katrina. Second, it’s interesting how quickly society falls into chaos.
The media is perhaps easiest to make fun of. It is hardly surprising that the press loves this story. Nothing could be more exciting than a cruise ship full of stranded passengers and backed up toilets. Never mind that no one was in any real danger, they weren’t really stranded in the middle of the Ocean with no help in sight. No doubt these passengers had a trying five days at sea but the media blew this into a side show all last week. Between comparing the trials of cruise ship passengers to those who suffered after a hurricane and cutting off Bible quoting cruise survivors, the media made fools of themselves yet again last week.
What is really interesting about this cruise ship is how quickly society fell apart. Obviously Carnival Cruise lines wasn’t really prepared for this sort of a disaster at sea. Nevertheless, no one on board was in any danger and Carnival so much as told passengers that. Less than half a day into this ordeal, one passenger freaked everyone out by shouting ”they’re lying to us!” Passengers became desperate for news as they no longer had internet access. When food was made available, people at the front of the line gorged themselves as though food would never be offered again. It’s amazing fights didn’t break out between rival gangs of passengers. Perhaps in another day or two it might have happened.
Obviously not everyone behaved poorly. There are accounts of people making friends on board, suffering through five inconvenient days together both befuddled and amused by it all. Society collapsed on board this ship and it should concern us should society ever collapse on land. We in the United States like to pretend that disasters on the sort of scale that collapse societies don’t happen here. Yet in the past decade we’ve had two hurricanes that collapsed local society and neither ended well. Hurricanes in New York and New Orleans saw thousands of people unable to take care of themselves, largely because they had no idea how to.
After those hurricanes people looked to a government that eventually showed up. One wonders what happens if government no longer exists or if it is incapacitated to the point where it cannot show up. How quickly will society devolve into utter chaos? On board a cruise ship it was a matter of 12 hours before people freaked out. Looting happened almost immediately in New York and New Orleans after hurricanes. If God forbid nuclear weapons incapacitate our government how long will it take for society to completely collapse in America? It’s a good bet that it will be less time than you initially think.
We live in a relatively secure society. Despite the media hype about gun violence and chaos, most Americans live a safe and secure life. This is why events such as 9-11 shock us so much, attacks on our safety are so few and far between we don’t even consider them in any serious way. That’s probably not such a good idea. We have enemies out there like Iran and North Korea who would almost certainly use nuclear weapons against us if they could. We have a national debt we can never hope to pay off that could truly collapse the dollar and our society some day. While we should avoid becoming survivalist crazies, it wouldn’t kill Americans to be a little more prepared than we are today. There is no guarantee the nanny state will be there to protect you when disaster strikes. In fact, you can probably bet that the state won’t be there.