As I’m sure most of you are aware, the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system in 17 states went down for a time yesterday, leading to no small amount of worry for those affected who rely upon the program to supplement their family’s dietary needs.
Thanks to the modern social media technology, the worry became hysteria rather quickly. I watch it all unfold via Twitter as the hashtag #EBT trended. There were those lamenting their misfortune wondering how they would feed their children, and despicable souls taking pleasure in their discomfort. I found myself praying for the souls of both.
Of course, it was all just a momentary computer upgrade glitch (or so we’re told), and the system is back online today.
There are lessons to be learned from this, the primary lesson being that the psychological shock of an interruption of services can hit far faster and wider than the actual effects of such a shutdown.
One of the immediate bits of disinformation spread last night were cries that the EBT cards of whites were working, but not the EBT cards of blacks. This statement is categorically false; in the areas where service were lost, it was a system-wide crash and everyone was affected.
Agitators used the tension in an effort to instigate racial strife.
Who they were can’t be known—anyone can claim to be anyone else on the Internet—but the clear intent was to fire up blacks against whites. If the shutdown were to stretch into days instead of just hours, the threat to the thin veneer of civility in our society would become frayed… to put it mildly, and rioting could rapidly break out and spread into something far worse.
What should people have learned from this incident?
The first and primary lesson is that being entirely dependent upon others to survive is terrifying. All of us depend upon others for some things—we are social animals, after all—but if you have no options and no reserves, you may find yourself in very desperate straits very quickly with very few options. As a result, you should if at all possible build up reserves of essentials such as food, water filtration (it’s usually much easier to find water than to clean it), fuel, and shelter for your family.
I would also strongly suggest that you put together a neighborhood protection plan, so that you and your neighbors can face any potential breakdown as a mutually supporting team. Lone-wolf survival makes great fiction, but is likely to lead to a swift death in the real world. There is strength and a diversity of skills in numbers. Take advantage of that.
I’m fortunately in that I’ve been able to read A Failure of Civility, provide copies to my neighbors, and speak to the authors themselves. I’ve recommended it in the past, and it seems like even more of a “must have” today.