How you doin', America? A few days back there was an attack on the very fabric of our society. Hackers disrupted Al Gore's Internet last Friday and it made for some pretty tough sledding out there. People were without access to their Twitter accounts for several hours. Spotify and Reddit were also impacted. If you didn't notice, you're probably not my son.
My son's contact with his world comes through his phone, and access to these forms of social media are the means of his communication with his peers. The idea that he might have to speak directly to another human being is a daunting one for him, and many of his generation. Faceless authorities tell him what to buy as well as when and where. He has become a fount of information for those of us too old or slow to lift our phones to our face and type on those tiny keyboards. His knowledge of engine compression is impressive for a father who spent years collecting pop culture tidbits if only for the chance to regurgitate them at some opportune moment and appear clever.
Which is really the purpose of Twitter, after all. Denying celebrities and a vast nation of would-be Oscar Wildes. I suspect that for those anxious moments last week, there were millions of pithy comments that had to be cast aside or set on ice for use later when connection with the pithyverse was reestablished.
Even more frightening was the fact that Amazon.com was out of commission for a similar amount of time, which means that the fifty-four ounce bag of Skittles you needed for the weekend was put in jeopardy. Do what you will with the National Security Agency and its vast storehouse of confidential material, but don't mess with my Skittles pipeline.
In real life, my world was impacted when the kids in the school's computer lab were unable to reach the website I had so carefully selected for them the week before. Explaining to a ten-year-old that there were bad people called "hackers" who were trying to disrupt digital communications turned out to be surprisingly easy. This is, after all, the world in which they have been brought up. They were born into a society that curses their handheld computers that don't receive signals from outer space as quickly as they might like, and they look forward to a time when all information can be digested in pill form, bypassing that whole listening function.
Then it was over. As quickly as it came on. Firewalls were restored and IP addresses were returned to their regular dependable state. And my son breathed out again.