What Sandy has Taught Me About Technology

In a nutshell, it showed how far me have come while pointing out some MAJOR flaws. The effects of Hurricane Sandy were devestating, and no doubt made us aware of how ill-prepared the tri-state area is against the wrath of Mother Nature. There are people still without power, displaced from their homes, or worse; lost everything.

I would like to keep the focus on how many of us lost basic survival skills and have become “crippled” by technology. This applies to those whose area was only effected by a power outage and nothing more. As frustrating as it was, I counted my blessings that all I lost was power. I was thankful to have a roof over my head, no flooding, and no down trees in my neighborhood. My family and I were as prepared as we could be. We had lights and a radio both operated by battery, and didn’t stock up on perishable food except for some milk and ice cream that was purchased before we realized the magnitude of the storm. We hunkered down and braced ourselves for the worst.

When we lost power we relied on the radio to keep updated as to what was going on around us and where to go for different services we needed. We couldn’t even imagine what was going on around us. When it was over we of course wanted to see if our family and friends were OK. With the exception of 2 friends, everyone we knew lost power. This is when I noticed technology was beginning to fail us.

  1. Cell phone service was spotty. I had absolutely no reception in my home or places where power was out. I could barely send and receive text messages. The only form of communication I had was social media when I was lucky enough to get 1 bar of service and my landline phone at home. Social Media really helped, as my friends constantly provided information about shelters and other services for people in need. It was also a way for me to see if everyone was OK and who needed help. But notice I also said landline. Many people learned for the first time that VoIP phone service such as Vonage, Comcast’s Xfinity Voice, or Cablevision’s Optimum Voice DO NOT work in a power outage. (and neither do cordless phones) I remember a representative from my cable provider trying to sell us their phone service. I urged my mother not to do so for this very reason. We were relieved to be able to check on our loved ones who had the same service and continued to worry about those we could not get in touch with at all because they had no cell or home phone service.
  2. No heat. I felt for those who have spent days without heat seeing that it is November. I was surprised to find out that the heat in my home still worked. While a lot of homes’ heating systems run on an electrical system, which, of course, would not work during a power outage, I found out my incredibly old but still in phenomenal condition furnace worked on a self powered gas system. Needless to say my family and I were very grateful.
  3. No food. As days passed and situations grew more dyer, I had been moved to volunteer to help distribute food to those less fortunate than I at my local food bank, due to the fact that they couldn’t do so for themselves whether it was because they had lost their home or because they had no power. I was never a fan of the electric stove, as I feel they don’t cook food well, and during this storm I was even happier than I don’t have one. It wouldn’t turn on on its own, but I was able to light my gas powered stove with a match and cook for my family.
  4. No gas. Because nearly all gas stations run on a computerized system, being able to fill up your car was nearly possible without waiting online for hours at the handful that were open. My family resorted to going to the western part of New Jersey to fill up as there was no wait time. People were relieved at the fact they could charge their phones in their cars however with a gas shortage, it seems silly to run your car simply to charge your cell phone. While there’s a 2004 and 2010 model car in my family, we also have a car made in 1993. I realized that since that car had a cigarettte lighter, it did not have to be on in order for the phone to charge, hence no idling and no wasting gas. (Didn’t do anything to the battery either, as I had feared.)

So what did Sandy teach me about technolog? It taught new that the “newer” technology is not necessairly better and that we rely on it way too much. There were many who lost everything however those who didn’t lose much of anything were acting like the it was the end of the world. Technology is a great and convenient thing, but it shouldn’t be our lifeline. I believe it’s time to get back to the basics and know what to do just in case the things that make life convenient are taken away.