Outage outrage

FI-EditorialYears from now, when everyone is sitting around telling stories of dramatic incidents in their lives and tales of triumph over struggle, will any of them say “Forget hurricanes, tornadoes or avalanches. I survived the Cablevision blackout of 2013.”

There are incidents that happen that bond a community. Is the loss of cable TV service one Sunday night in August going to be one of those? Will people talk in hushed tones in years to come, still traumatized, about the nights their TV sets went dark and they were forced to communicate with one another? Will they talk about the two hours they had no phone service and had to rely completely on cell phones? Will they break down and cry about how their favorite shows would just not come on no matter how many times they pressed the remote control?

In all likelihood the circumstances around this past Sunday when a power failure in Norwalk wreaked havoc across the state will be forgotten by the time the leaves start to fall off the trees in a few weeks. For several hours on Sunday night Greenwich residents using Cablevision as their provider found themselves deprived of any and all TV service while some reported no Internet and/or no phone. Yet the town managed to go on somehow.

There were no reports of looting or any related anarchy. But some Greenwich residents found this enough of a crisis to call 911 or police non-emergency lines over to demand action. And Greenwich wasn’t the only town to do this, forcing Fairfield police to publicly state that this was neither an emergency nor a police matter, a reminder that helped put things in perspective.

While most Greenwich residents didn’t need that reminder, the level of much of the reaction throughout the state was not properly in line with the severity of the problem. Yes people did miss things and no one likes to miss things. Key moments in a highly anticipated Breaking Bad episode were lost. Yankees and Red Sox fans missed some Alex Rodriguez-related shenanigans. Mets fans missed another ninth inning loss. WWE fans looking to order pay-per-view missed two guys wrestling in a ring surrounded by fire. And those looking for the season finale of HBO’s True Blood missed something that had all Alexander Skarsgard fans buzzing on the Internet (feel free to search online for yourself what exactly that was).

But really, what happened? TV was out for two hours? Is that really enough to summon all the forces of rage and revenge onto Cablevision? It’s not as though Fios or DirecTV are problem-free either. Sometimes annoying things just happen.

Now this is not a chance to be high and mighty and note that there are people starving around the world (even though there are) and people got worked up over missing half an hour of Breaking Bad. And it’s not a chance to condescendingly remark, “My word, simply read a book instead.” This is just another reminder that as a society we are more plugged in than ever and that if anything ever disrupts that, the gates of Hades seem to be flung open.

People hate to be inconvenienced. They hate not to have 1,000 channels and full online access immediately at their fingertips. The smallest disruption reminds us just how tenuous that connection can be. It’s like a hard drive crash in life where everything you took for granted as having for immediate usage is suddenly gone. It’s not a good feeling. But it’s also one that’s fairly easy to bounce back from.

A few hours without TV appears to have killed absolutely no one. And maybe we all learned not to rush to the phones to dial 911 next time it happens too.

After all, it wasn’t like this happened during the upcoming series finale of Breaking Bad. Now that would be something to flip out over.

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