I live in a cabin on a lake in the forest. You’d think that whenever the power goes out, there would be silence. Lovely silence. And lovely dark. And there is. For all of thirty seconds. Then everyone’s backup generator goes on. And for the next five, ten, twenty, or forty-eight hours, I hear engine noise. Constant engine noise. Like a tractor trailer is parked in my driveway. Idling. Loudly.
Because my god but the world would end if people had to go without TV for five hours! Or without whatever the hell it is they need their generators for.
Two hours in, and they’re driving into town. Because ‘What about supper?’ What? Food is that foremost on your mind? You’re not in Ethiopia. You just ate a couple hours ago. And if you’re really that hungry, don’t you have anything in the house that can be eaten raw, out of the box, or out of the can?
Perhaps they can’t stand the silence. No, that can’t be right, because everyone’s generators are on.
Is it that they can’t stand the severance from—what, exactly? Civilization? Please. Most people here couldn’t care less about their neighbours. When I asked one to join a sort of neighbourhood watch so we could call the fire department whenever, during a total fire ban, some asshole one had a huge, blazing campfire, as was his habit, she refused. Didn’t want to stick her neck out.
Quite apart from the fact that a power outage doesn’t sever you from civilization. Can’t you hear everyone’s generators? Everyone’s still here.
Is it that people are so fearful they need the illusion of safety that noise and light provide? Hm. Now I understand why people have their TV on all day even though they aren’t watching it. And it suddenly occurs to me that most of the people who live here never leave their houses, except to get into their car and go somewhere. I never see them out for a walk, on the road, or in the forest. I never see them down at the water, let alone out on the lake.
Or perhaps it’s just that there’s nothing going on inside their little heads, so they need the external stimulation to keep them from utter boredom.
Far more than pathetic, it’s scary. That people are so dependent on that kind of (external) energy.