What is swatting? I figured it had something to do with flies or, perhaps, it was a new street lingo euphemism for something disgusting (sexual) done in bed. I was wrong on both counts. Like everything important in life, Wikipedia provides illumination:
Swatting is the tricking of any emergency service (via such as a 9-1-1 dispatcher) into dispatching an emergency response based on the false report of an on-going critical incident.
Source: Wikipedia – Swatting
A particularly nasty version of swatting is when you hoax the police into sending a SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) response to the home of your sworn enemy and kicking in their door, possibly shooting them while they reach for their salad fork and generally ruining their day. This is the sort of thing kids consider to be trendy these days.
In this particular case, a woman and her 18-year-old son were at home when 70 armed police officers showed up expecting to find an ongoing murder/gunman situation. It seems the son had been victorious in a Call Of Duty video game and the sore loser had “swatted” them. Police seized the victim’s Xbox and iMac computer as forensic evidence hoping to find clues that will help them discover the IP address and, eventually, the identity of the “swatter.” The cost of the response was estimated to be $100,000 and a couple pairs of soiled undergarments.
Well done, humans. Evil and hunger and pain and suffering run rampant on this planet. Meanwhile, you are fiendishly clever at manipulating the system to create even more of the same. That sure beats wasting precious time and energy trying to improve things, right?
Actually, if you stop to think about it, the fabric of our society is woven pretty damn thin. Just the other day a young man allegedly relieved himself in a city’s water supply and the city responded by saying 38 million gallons of treated drinking water would have to go. (Pun intended.) Who knew eight little ounces could create such an impact? In a surprise move, however, after draining about 2-3 million gallons into the sewer system, the city reversed itself and moved the “contaminated” water to a different reservoir where it still awaits its fate. It is unclear at this time if this meets the definition of waterboarding. I wonder when it will finally be dislodged?
The point I’m making, lest it got watered down in that stream of diversion, is that society – our very way of life – is held together by a remarkably fragile set of rubber bands, paperclips and tinker toys. There are lots of vulnerable spots. If only a single kid acting a doofus can take out 38 million gallons of water, think about what a truly committed, motivated and nefarious person might be able accomplish.
Even a single car driving into a pole (like when attempting to elude the police) can take out the electrical grid for an amazing number of city blocks.
When I was growing up it was a simpler time. We had Smokey Bear reminding us to remain vigilant about putting out our campfires. Now we seemingly have people going out of their way to do things 100x worse. On purpose.
There was once a time when bottles of ketchup didn’t have little stickers you had to peel off to get at the treasure inside. Then came the Tylenol pill scare. The effects live on to this very day. I think about it every time I buy a product that has been hermetically sealed for my protection. And, remember: They never caught the person who did it.
Portland recently had a spate of neighborhoods being hit by tire slashers. Now that’s a motivated person(s) out looking for those vulnerable spots. If you can’t beat ’em then kick ’em in the groin, eh?
There’s no such thing as a system with 100 percent efficiency. If we were to call the entire human population of Earth a system, what might that mean? Let’s assume seven billion people and a fail rate of 0.01 percent. “Fail rate” is our friendly term for describing people who, for one reason or other, run around deliberately causing the wonton destruction of others. Additionally, the “bad apple” failure rate I propose here I assume is optimistically overstated by a whole bunch. It’s hard to estimate the fail rate of people, but we do know things like condoms fail about one percent of the time and 26.2 percent of Americans have some sort of “diagnosable mental disorder.”
I whip out my calculator and, optimistically, estimate that this planet is crawling with about 700,000 folks who want nothing more than to knee us in our vulnerable spots. Of those, about 32,600 live in the United States. (Assuming a nice, randomized and even distribution.) That’s about 652 per state, on average. Hell, one of them might even live in your neighborhood. (And this doesn’t include people who are brainless and do stupid shit on accident. They are bonus.)
Forest fires. Urban arson. Food supply. Water supply. Electrical grids. Transportation. And much, much more. All vulnerable. There are lots of things these bad apples can do. And, as if the fabric of society isn’t stretched enough, they’re thinking up new ones, like swatting, all the time.
We tend to think of a society as an organized system but frankly, considering the above, I’m amazed it works at all. It’s scary to think how poised on the precipice everything we take for granted may really be. And that there are so many crazies running around willing to push.
If you really think about it, it’s almost enough to make you wet yourself. Just don’t do it in a reservoir.