Contagion: The communication of disease from one person to another by close contact.
When the histories are written about his era, this word may prove to be central: contagion. Why? We're all connected -- on every level between the physical and logical -- for the first time in history. We see contagion everywhere, from the financial markets that spread fear and panic over default globally to viral rumors/pictures that spread across the Internet in a flash.
Given this backdrop, Steven Soderbergh's new movie, "Contagion" is perfectly named. H0wever, it is a movie about a global contagion we haven't seen in full bloom yet. Something that almost every scientific expert I've talked with (and I've talked to quite a few) truly believes: we will soon see a deadly, biological contagion become a global pandemic. Given that somber reality, Soderbergh did a great job with the topic. The movie's meticulous attention to scientific and medical detail makes the movie's plot-line hard to dismiss. It is very close to how a global pandemic would occur and is therefore a must see movie.
If there was one failing in the movie, it was its inability to envision what occurs when people don't go to work for fear of getting sick. What happens then? Pretty simple, our global just in time supply system breaks down, and quickly. Food disappears in a day (3 days on hand + panic buying by hoarders = gone), fuel runs out, etc. Things wind down, with one failure cascading into the next (we are all, and everything is, connected). That, my dear friends, is a global failure. A failure of the type that kills with far more efficiency than a virus.
So, what do you and I do in the face of financial to political to biological contagion? How do we avoid being a number on a casualty list or historical footnote? First, we need to recognize the fact that a globally interconnected system of the type we have today is not stable. It's built in a way that ensures that it will suffer sharp and terrible failures.
Second, the best way to avoid these failures (some of which, like our creeping global economic depression, can last decades) is NOT a well stocked cabin in the woods. It is to live in a community that can produce most of what it needs locally, protect itself (disconnect/defend as necessary), and connect/trade virtually for everything else it needs. This resilient community is the emerging building block of a global civilization that is stable across the entire range of potential contagions, whether man made or not.
So how do you build a resilient community?
Stay tuned to what I'm doing. I'm currently ramping up my efforts to help people as many people as possible to build resilient communities. Communities that can provide them support while the world goes increasingly nuts. A way of life that mitigates of the negative effects of financial, political, and biological contagion while at the same time maximizing quality of life, global connectivity, and economic/social success.
Follow me as @johnrobb on Twitter.