Times Square, New York City, December 31, 1999. The final seconds of the millennium are counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! As people begin to cheer, computers are crashing, all power is cut, and everything goes black. People panic and start to run, trampling each other in their rush to find safety. Cars are wrecking, looting has begun, and anarchy begins to rule. Does this seem a little drastic for a small computer glitch? To me it does. With all the problems we have today, the subject is on the top of the list for paranoia is Y2K. My one question about this problem is why are people over-reacting to the Y2K problem? The best answers are because of media hype and a fear of computers.
Media hype seems to be the largest factor in the way people are reacting to Y2K. Let s face it, when one media group finds something that no one else has, they announce it to the world as fast as they can. When it is announced, all the other media groups focus their attention on that subject and announce new, even false, information to the public to get ratings. After people start to hear of something that can be dangerous to their lives, they decide to buy survival gear. Stores hear of this and offer such survival gear. This is the way that news of the Y2K bug has spread. While the actual bug will have no, if any, lasting effects, media groups have made a simple programming glitch into the end of civilization.
The second largest reason people fear Y2K is because of a fear of computers. Such a fear is very common and not without warrant. Computers have replaced people in many areas of employment and have caused a fear and resentment of computers. People that fear or resent computers should not be laughed at or tormented. Although their fear may be just, some of these people may have gone too far in their fear of Y2K. Many people are building Y2K shelters in fear of the impending disaster. These shelters are similar, if not identical, to fallout shelters built in the 1960 s. They are being stocked with food, water, and other supplies. People that are building these shelters are also preparing for looters to try and enter their shelters by buying ammunition and weapons to fend off other people. Is that a little over the top? I believe it is.
The Y2K bug may be a big problem, but it will probably be just an expensive annoyance that will only last a few hours. Of the millions of dollars spent on Y2K, only a few computers will need the patch to be able to function correctly in the twenty-first century. The rest of the computers will be fine. Most of the problems found on January 1st will be attributed to normal end-of-the-year difficulties. If I were you, I wouldn t worry about Y2K. But be prepared to have the power off for a couple of hours, just in case.