The Speed of Stupid

Hi. I’m still here and so are you. The world didn’t end in The Rapture last Saturday as that nutjob, Harold Camping “predicted”. I mean, an octopus had a better prediction record than this guy, which naturally makes all those who followed him, all the more terrifyingly stupid as they are also armed with guns and able to vote/procreate. Thankfully there were also those with a sense of humor about this lunacy.

But, why did this one yokel from Oakland get so much attention? I blame the current state of communication in that we can transmit no end of useless information incredibly fast via Facebook, Twitter, and the the like. But, how would this have played out just a few years ago? Let’s see.

5 Years Ago
Facebook and Twitter had no widespread exposure which meant that this would have been chain emails that would primarily be picked up by bloggers. Given that those following Camping’s predictions are most likely barely literate, they wouldn’t be able to read full-length articles and the movement would have effectively died out with just a little traditional media coverage.

10 Years Ago
No blogs would mean that this prediction would have been tied primarily to email which, most of us probably would have deleted as we were receiving so much spam in 2001. Some articles on a very new Wikipedia might have been written about it, but they would be largely ignored.

15-20 Years Ago
This prediction would be put up on a very, very crappy website that would probably not display properly on whatever version of Internet Explorer people were struggling to use at the time. Also, a broken font tag in the code would probably have it all look like gibberish and it would be generally written off by everyone unless some porn pictures were posted on the server in which case, it would have gotten a little attention, but would have never made the jump to traditional media.

30 Years Ago
Camping, if he played nicely might have gotten a spot on the show of a televangelist. But, that would have been highly unlikely as his “end of the world” wouldn’t translate well in to preacher dollars. Otherwise, he’d be sticking up flyers in the parking lots of Andronico’s in Oakland and bugging the hell out of people with late night commercials on local TV networks.

50 Years Ago
Unless printing a nutty little newspaper, he would have been nearly unheard. Sure, he’d be driving around in a pickup truck with a billboard in the back of it, but he’d have no TV access, although he might gain access to some weird, pirate radio station because we all know that Christians are totally in to pirate radio.

250 Years Ago
He’d probably be a preacher somewhere on the East Coast and people would probably have listened to him. After all, people were “huntingeth witches” just a few years before this, so the thought that the end of the world was coming wouldn’t seem that nutty, definitely not as nutty as saying that the United States would soon be an independent nation. But, he’d also be churning out some little one page rag (the original zine/blog) and be tacking it up around town. Whatever the case, the church officials would probably just let him ramble on as he’d undoubtedly pull in some good cash from the donation plate given that who would need money if the world was going to end?

500 Years Ago
Harold would be a really, really annoying pain in the ass to whomever owned a printing press. He’d do his little proclamations and again, run all over town putting them up. Parishioners would kick him down a few coins out of sympathy for “someone not of sound mind” that would allow him to run around tacking up more posters. Given that people were more worried about the rain that afternoon than the end of the world the next day, they’d probably just ignore him.

2,000 Years Ago
He’d start spouting off to the other shepherds who would look over and tell him to “shut the fuck up”.