Friday, February 5, 2010

Y2K Disqualified

People who are skeptical of the year 2012 being the end of the world (as we know it) or a great awakening often cite Y2K as an example of a failed end of the world prediction.  But I think it's time they picked another  failed end of the world prediction to use an example.  Why?  Because I don't think Y2K should count as an end of the world prediction.

Sure, it was hyped like an end of the world prediction and a lot of people thought (and still think) of it as one, but I don't think it qualifies as one.  Simply put, the problem of computer programs rolling over from 1999 to 1900 would have hardly caused the end of the world (and it didn't).

For one, there was plenty of time to fix the problem before it even became a problem.  People became aware of the Y2K problem many years before the year 2000.  There was plenty of time for programmers to solve the problem, and plenty of time for organizations at risk of being affected by the problem to either upgrade the software or buy whole new systems.  Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if a cabal of software and technology CEOs didn't spread the Y2K rumors and hype them up just to sell more computers.

Even the way the Y2K problem was predicted is different from your traditional end of the world prediction.  Most end of the world predictions come from a psychic/seer/prophet, an astrological prediction, or someone trying to calculate a date based on some religious interpretation they have.  The Y2K 'predictions' resulted from someone pointing out a potential software glitch.

Another reason I think the Y2K problem doesn't qualify as an end of the world scenario is that I would imagine that even if the problem had been as bad as some people feared it would be, there would still be many people living in tribal and rural communities around the world who would have woken up on January 1st, 2000 and gone about business as usual.  While most of the world's population may live in cities, suburbs, and Western rural communities with modern conveniences, there are still a lot of people who live in rural communities without modern conveniences.  In other words, if the Y2K problem had been as bad as some people feared it would be, most of the world may have been affected, but not necessarily all of it.  Hardly an end of the world scenario if it doesn't actually affect the whole world.

And, considering that people lived without computers for thousands of years, it would seem to me that the worst the Y2K problem could have created is a bad situation.  We've become accustomed to using computers for many reasons, but they are not a requirement for life.  And, of course, we now know that the Y2K problem didn't even create a bad situation.  The Y2K problem turned out to be nothing significant.

Maybe I'm just nitpicking here, but parading the Y2K problem around as a failed end of the world prediction is just so passé to me now.  If you're skeptical of the year 2012 bringing any major disasters and want to cite a failed end of the world prediction, try to find something other than Y2K.  There are plenty of other ones to choose from (here is a list).  Y2K is overused as an example, and it isn't even a good comparison to 2012, in my opinion.  The 2012 predictions come from various sources throughout the world and even scientists have warned that strong solar storms will be peaking around 2012.  The Y2K issue may have received a lot of media hype, but that's about the only thing it has in common with 2012 predictions.

Of course, if nothing significant happens to the world in 2012, then they might have something else common.  Guess we'll have to wait and see about that though.


  1. I see what you're getting at. Some people thought Hale-Bop was the end of the world enough to remove their shoes and lie down and die. Some though black plague was it. Some thought the turn of the 20th century was. There'll always be those who believe in lots of things and then are proven over time to be wrong. When 2012 passes, folks will no doubt be saying that "well, we saw it coming and steered away from it. We made good choices." It's pretty convenient. I think it comes down to folks desperate to see a miracle and be part of an historic period of time. It's like the ones who salivate over the "second coming." I get it, but it's such a loss to spend one's life considering how it will end when they could be living it--we have no guarantees. The Y2K worries and the 2012 hysteria are entertaining and make for great movies, newspapers and TV and perhaps bring more into the churches, but they benefit us in no way. We have to treat each day as if what we decide now will affect people 200 years from now instead of thinking we can squander what's left of the earth's resources. Well, that's just how I see the whole nonsense. I like your attitude about Y2K. It was rather hilarious. I remember people storing powdered milk and batteries. It's a fun thing to tell the grandkids I suppose. No doubt their generation will wait for a near-miss meteor to end it all.

  2. Wish that people would just stop hyping and attacking the 2012 thing so much. Skeptics don`t know what will happen, believers don`t know what will happen, I don`t know what will happen, WE DON`T EVEN KNOW FOR SURE THAT THE SUN WILL RISE TOMORROW. There are as much possibilities that the world will end or experience a dramatic change/paradigm shift in the next 24 hours than in 2 years, and in my opinion predictions don`t help too much to rise the possibilities.