On This Day Pre-Y2K

Confused by any of the jargon you see below? Check the Y2K Glossary!

March 2, 1999 Permalink

Panic. Now that there are just over 300 days until Y2K, this is an appropriate time to talk more about panic. I think it’s inevitable. I also think that the government is doing everything it can to reduce panic, or at least delay it until the last minute by downplaying the problems we may face in Y2K. And I think this is doing us a disservice because it prevents people from preparing.

How can a governor be concerned enough to call up their National Guard for a Y2K test run, stage emergency planning drills and yet not be concerned enough to tell people to prepare?

And it is not only the government who wants to forestall panic. I was invited by a friend who sells financial instruments to talk to a large group of people about Y2K. “I want you to tell them what you think will happen, and I want you to be honest,” he told me. “But don’t panic them.” Why not panic them? Because he doesn’t want them to buy gold or cash out, he’d rather they stick with his investments.

Well, giving people a glimpse at the awful potential - and I admit that it is only the potential - of Y2K without causing a bit of panic or at least a good healthy does of fear is tough to do. How can I tell them that there is a good chance we will experience blackouts, rioting in the streets, bank runs, market crashes, food shortages and there’s a good chance people will die and not panic them? Tell a wealthy suburbanite driving an Audi that they should install a wood stove and buy a gun and they are likely to laugh at you and discount your advice because you are obviously a nut. Make them face what life would be like without all the conveniences they are used to, and they may laugh it off, but inside, they will be worried. And if you capture their attention and get through their shield of “it can’t happen to me,” they’ll probably go into panic mode.

—Jack, Diary of a Survivalist, 03/02/99

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