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  • The Pickled Prepper

Cell Network Crash Demonstrates how Fragile Technology Is

Whether it was caused by a cyber-attack, a solar flare, or what AT&T Wireless called an “incorrect process,” the loss of the AT&T wireless network for about 12 hours last week should be a reminder to all Americans of what could happen if all the cell phone networks or the Internet itself had been knocked by a solar flare, hacker, or enemy action.

I have heard reports of people who were in their car using their phone for directions when the network died. Without their phone, not only could they not get to where they were going, they could not even get home. What? You can’t even remember how to retrace your steps? That’s terrible.

And don’t try stopping at a gas station to ask for directions. That went out when self-service became popular. No one knows how to get anywhere any more.

The generation that has grown up with phones is so reliant on them they don’t try to learn or memorize things because they can just search for the answer, use their phone’s calculator, or find an app for that. It’s like the kid at the store who didn’t know how to give me change for a $20 when the bill was $18.87. He was at a loss without the cash register to tell him what to hand over. Dude, seriously?

I predict it will be even worse when they implant the technology into our brains. Thanks, but no thanks. I prefer to think for myself rather than repeat a line fed to me via the Internet like in the terminator in the original movie.


I am not against technology, but I think you should learn how to do something manually first. For example, I use software to check these posts for grammar, spelling and “style.” The software is one of the highest rated packages available, yet it is far from perfect. It often makes suggestions that show it clearly does not understand what I am trying to say. For example, if I say something like “A couple ears of corn” it might try to correct it to “A couple years of corn.” A human editor who knows what corn is would not make that mistake, but the computer does. If I accepted its every recommendation the software made, my writing would be far worse, or at least more nonsensical than it is already.

I pity the poor student who never learned to write well or how to diagram a sentence and doesn’t know the difference between an adverb and an adjective will fall into the software’s trap. Like my old college professor would write on the top of some student’s papers, “68, nice try.”

Likewise, my wife’s car has a setting in which it will steer itself. I turn this off because the automatic system wants to drive down the middle of the lane while I want to drive closer to the right-hand side. As a result, we end up battling against each other and the car wobbles back and forth. The center of the lane approach might work fine if I am on the second lane in a six-lane highway, but on our narrow mountain roads, it is far more likely that someone is going to cross the center line on a curve than it is something will hit use from the passenger side.

Technology Makes us Vulnerable

People always worry what happens without electricity, and as much as we rely on it for lighting, refrigeration, heating, cooling, and cooking, I think some people will be more freaked out by the loss of their screens than they will by food rotting in the refrigerator. The loss of all cell service and/or internet connectivity on all devices—whether caused by a power outage or by something else—will be massively disruptive.

Commerce, for example, will come to a screeching halt because stores will not be able to accept credit or debit cards, tap and pay won’t work, and ApplePay will be useless. So few people carry cash any more.

Those that can drive their cars and find their way home without GPS won’t be able to buy gas for the reason outlined above. Assuming they get home in one piece, they will be bored. There will be no one to talk to and they won’t have a printed book to read. They won’t know their neighbors or who their “friends” are without social media. Finally, those that decide they should do “something,” won’t have any idea what to do without Googling it or watching a YouTube video. They’ll be doomed.

Cell phones. Who would have ever guessed they would introduce a new vulnerability into our system?

Better have a radio plus some knowledge and experience to fall back on.


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