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Lost in Cyberspace
Millenium Madness
© 1999 by H.B. Koplowitz

As the clock ticks down to Y2k, the Zeitgeist is neither jubilation nor panic, but a general hunkering down. Rather than spinning out of control, millennial Messianicism seems to be canceling out millennium madness. There have yet to be runs on gasoline, batteries, bottled water, canned goods and ATMs, but few people are buying those pricey millennium hotel packages either.

Which is as it should be. By most indications, the computer glitch known as the "millenium" bug will turn out to be more like swine flu than TEOTWAWKI -- more of a nuisance than The End Of The World As We Know It. Yet no matter what marvels lie ahead in the next century, those of us born in the passing one have little to look forward to besides obsolescence. Put another way, for those prone to holiday depressions, this year you can multiply the agony by 1,000.

But I digress. As one of the great leaders of the past century, President Franklin Roosevelt, said of the Great Depression, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And those with the most to fear once the calendar rolls over to Jan. 1, 2000, will be Y2k consultants who will have to find honest jobs again, though not before pocketing millions in Y2k windfall profits. In fairness, although there may not be any Y2ktastrophe, billions of dollars were spent on computer upgrades worldwide to avoid one. And if it weren't for the doomsayers, governments and businesses might not have responded in time. So as the millennium meltdown morphs into the millennium letdown, let us bid a fond farewell to Y2k doomsday Web sites.

One of the first to sound the alarm over a looming Y2k problem was Gary North, and at "Gary North's Y2k Links and Forums" <> he continues to provide the latest Y2k news, including a recent story about a Wisconsin man who lost $12,000 in a burglary at his home because he had cashed out his bank account in anticipation of Y2k. The site has grown to more than 7,000 documents arranged into such categories as banking, telecommunications, the stock market, health care, personal computers, the power grid, "no big problem" and the "domino effect."

Once the Paul Reveres of cyberspace, Y2k doomsayers lately have been stung by charges of fear mongering and have toned down their rhetoric. "Y2kWatch" <> "strives to be a voice of reason in the cacophony of Y2k speculation and fear mongering without diminishing the severity of the possible repercussions from unprepared individuals, businesses, and governments." The site encourages everyone to "prepare spiritually, physically, and financially for Y2k," but seems confident enough that the world will go on as we know it to accept banner advertising from a long-distance phone company.

Another clearinghouse of information on the millennium bug is Peter de Jager's "Year 2000 Information Center" <>. Over the past eight years de Jager has made a career of publicizing the Y2k problem with public and media appearances and has written several books and numerous articles on the subject.

In another kind of domino effect, when the Y2k alarmists bite the dust, so too will the Y2k skeptics. So enjoy while you can the "Year 2000 Computer Bug Hoax" <>, whose author asserts, "The hysteria surrounding the Year 2000 computer bug will be the biggest money-making hoax in my lifetime." The site invites visitors to leave comments, such as: "A friend of mine bought 800 cans of soup and 300 pounds of rice in preparation for this Y2k fiasco! My question is this -- if there's no electricity, how will he cook his soup and his rice?"

Another skeptic site is the Borderland Sciences Research Foundation's "Y2k Hysteria" <>. The foundation has issued a "Y2k Challenge" to anyone who can provide a verifiable example of a computer or other device that completely stops working because it is date sensitive, and claims that so far no one has beat the challenge.

Another doomed species is the Y2k satiric Web site, such as "Gary Souths's Y2k Links and Forums" <>, one of several spoofs on Gary North's Web site. The author of the site claims not to have a Y2k problem because he lives in "an Armed Survival Compound in Arkansas, safely surrounded by the proper kind of food, the proper kind of wife (study your Old Testament), and a pack of vicious attack dogs." The site says chaos will reign once the banks, utilities, telephones and TV stop working. "Especially TV. When TV goes down Western Civilization crumbles."

One more victim of Y2k is millennium merchandise, which is fizzling as a fickle public reaches millenium saturation. But at Web sites such as "Millennium Madness" <>, you can still buy millennium calendars, apparel, luxury champagne flutes and such toys as Millennium Barbie, Millennium Monopoly and Millennium Trivial Pursuit. According to an article on the Yahoo! Web site, one of the few millennium novelty items to sell well has been millennium condoms by Durex. Apparently some things will stay the same in the new millennium.

See you on the other side: (click here)

copyright 1999 by H.B. Koplowitz, all rights reserved.

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