When the Lights Go Out – For Good

There are any number of reasons the infrastructure carrying our power supply might suddenly no longer function, but what if we were to find ourselves awaking one morning to a world without power?  That morning might start as any other, and we would (reasonably) assume there had been a downed power line or similar disruption which was entirely manageable and normal.  But as you walked outside you may soon notice something strange.

As cars lay dormant on the streets you may realize that the power outage was not only affecting your own house, but possibly had spread to all electrical components in your area.  The disturbing scenario was outlined in the Twilight Zone episode “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” in March of 1960.  And yet even now after all these years there is still not a non power based infrastructure for gathering and distributing that all important resource we will find ourselves most lacking – information.  Without information a simple power outage could soon seem to the imaginations of the most paranoid to be a terrifying and life shattering event.  Hysteria and panic could overtake crowds long before local resources were exhausted.

So what would you do if you found nothing in your life that relied on electricity worked?  Cell phones would be out of the question, phones entirely inoperable, and even that now ancient seeming miracle of Marconi’s radio would be rendered silent.  What does the imagination do at this point?  We are a society completely transfixed by the gathering of information.  We gather it constantly whether we need it or not.  And in this way when information is no longer freely flowing we may manifest symptoms comparable to withdrawal.

Whatever mechanism would be causing this event is purposefully obscured for the purpose of this article.  And there are various potential causes, though no one is particularly likely to strike tomorrow.  But in this void of communication we would largely have to emerge into the world to interact among others without the shield of that electron gulping, glowing screen or those reinterpreted sound waves coming through our phone’s earpiece.  Music might once again sound rare and precious and the beauty of works of art could once again be seen for what it is rather than how it compares to the next in a mosaic of electric images.  Would this be a better world?  Nothing makes a world better or worse without the human element.  And that element would be largely up to interpretation.  The real question might be “would we make it better or worse?”

Though it may seem a bit off topic in our modern fast paced society to wonder at the marvels of such a simple concept, and speculate on the purpose of its loss, it is something we can all agree that we definitely need today.  And for now we can rest, assured that when we flick the light switch on in the darkest night there will be a light bulb to spill this light onto the world around us and reflect back that which we need most: information.