Tuesday, 1 June 2010

When the electricity stops flowing

My boss and I were joking the other day about just how useless we would be to society if it were suddenly to collapse. If the electricity stopped flowing, we’d still need Doctors, Farmers, Engineers, Woodworkers, Builders, Blacksmiths, Teachers, Weavers – even Soldiers, but IT Support?

I think not.

I imagine that when the dust finally settled, there’d be some kind of big gathering where all the survivors would get together. Some strong/charismatic/violent leader would be running the show and, because there would be a shortage of resources (Tescos would have been stripped bare long since), we would all have to make a case for being allowed to stay in the community. Those without a sufficiently strong case would be packed off to the ‘Badlands’ (there’s always a ‘Badlands’ in these scenarios - desolate barren places inhabited by mutants, brain-munching zombies or estate agents gone feral).

The conversation would go something like this:

LDR: (Bored) OK, you over there, the tubby one! Yes, you. What was your job before?

ME: Er, I worked in IT.

LDR: Hm, not much call for that now, is there? What else can you do?

ME: Wee-e-e-ll. I can cook – a bit.

LDR: Look, we’ve got three TV chefs already wanting to stay in this community. I’m thinking of making them all fight to the death, last man standing gets the gig. What else have you got? Can you make stuff?

ME: Does card-making count?

LDR: (Sarcastically) Yeah! Of course! Nothing keeps the zombies at bay better than a hand-made birthday card! Can you knit or sew even?

ME: Erm, not really. I can turn up a hem and sew on a button…?

LDR: Sheesh! You’re not making it easy are you? (Turns to Jean-Paul Gaultier) Ok, weirdo, you’ve got the tailoring gig, but just one rubber skirt and it’s the Badlands for you, got it?

ME: I’m quite good with figures…?

LDR: We’ve already got Mr Simpkins, a qualified accountant.

ME: How about someone to keep records? You know, preserve history and all that.

LDR: I’m thinking we should be concentrating on the future right about now. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Thucydides mentioning much about the Athenians battling armies of zombies and mutants – or did I miss something?

ME: (Getting a bit sad and desperate now) But you’ll need story-tellers, musicians and artists, right?

LDR: Maybe. You any good at those things?

ME: Ish. I’ve written a few stories and songs, the odd poem.

LDR: OK, give me a sample of your stuff.

ME: OK, It’s all on my blog – Oh.

At this point, the Leader would signal to his minions and, well, that would be my one-way ticket to zombietown.

I wonder if it's too late to sign up for that bricklaying course I saw...


  1. that's brilliant... esp the referral to the blog!! Scary too, time to sign up for that pottery class!

  2. there's some kind of scary fact that if the world did suddenly end then there isn't a single person that understands the whole of any given technology - so for arguments sake if electricity was still about then you'd need 8-10 different people who all understood different aspects of technology to get the TVs working and watch Britain's Got Talent - and actualy stuff that mattered like brain surgery (always assuming there are NO zombies) would be beyond us.

    Well at least I'd have company out in the badlands then...

  3. @Niamh - Yes, we're going to need pots, cos they're always getting broken - they never dig up a whole one on Time Team, do they?

    @DFTP - It scares me just how little I actually do know about the technology we all rely on so much. My hope is that the Dummies books will survive the catastrophe.

  4. this made me think of the movie Postman, no electric mean no anything we have now adays and is very scary, we watched Live Free Die Hard last night and if that happens to our world, there would be no IT people needed for sure. we sat down and listed what we would have that worked with no electric available, truly scary

  5. @Sandra - Yes! I've read Postman (way better than the movie) and it would be like this I think. Even those things that don't require electricity to function were probably made using electricity, so once they're broken/worn out there'd be no easy way to re-create them. Old crafts would have to be re-learned. All we could hope for is that enough people with these skills survive and that, being (in the west anyway) a reasonably literate society, we can preserve our science until we can get stuff going again and not have to re-do from scratch.

  6. No, I don't see it that way at all.
    Your answers to his questions would not really be as lame as this, you'd have a few snappy snippets to hand out and you'd be the head court jester in no time.

  7. I would probably be out in the wilderness too - they'd kill all the lawyers so there'd be no need for a legal assistant :)

  8. @Friko - Thanks for the vote of confidence but I suspect the stress of the situation would rob me of any glibness.

    @Bug - Hehe, looks like I'm going to be in good company out there. You any good at fighting zombies?

  9. lol!.. they'd surely need someone to entertain everyone! Sure with your voice and song writing and word weaving ability.. much more important than knowing how to sew on buttons!
    Is it weird to admit that I feel smug sometimes that I know what time of year to plant seeds, how to break in a horse and know how to shoot... because of the whole 'apocalypse at any moment' thing... (I'm not paranoid)

  10. @Watercats - Can I come and live with you when the doo-doo hits? You have skills! Actual proper skills! And you wouldn't do too badly in the entertaining yourself as it goes. And it's not wrong to be smug either.

  11. I love blogger in draft, the only thing i don't love is the upload. on the draft forum everyone is yelling and complaining about it, so i am sure they will fix it soon.

  12. Get into abacuses. If computers go down the pan, they'll make a comeback!


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