What Will be Said About This Moment 50 Years From Now?

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With the close of 2020, we ended an era. Like the roaring twenties or the disco revolution of the 1970s, 2010–2020 (the 20s) will be known as the period in which truth left us. In the Information Age, for the first time, we as a society could air our grievances in a public platform for all to see. Not just with each other, but with our leaders. Instead of having a conversation with give and take, we conformed to a give and receive society. Protected by the thin veil of glass of our phones and a mask. But, more so than ever before, we found the close of this decade fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. A raging pandemic at our feet and governmental and civil unrest at our face.

When the history books record these happenings, what will they say? After all, depending on your news source, truth can mean quite a bit of a different thing. Truth used to be the simple opposite of a lie, something that could be trusted and counted on. But in 2021, truth has dissolved into what you believe. You’re no longer wrong, you’re different. We have erased the uncomfortable posture of conceding defeat. You didn’t lose, it was a fraud. The Government isn’t protecting the people, they are trying to eliminate the people. In the HBO series Chernobyl, the central theme of the show is to portray how the fabric of lies and pride that underpinned the system worked to destroy not just a nuclear plant and a massive area of land, but it was a catalyst for the destruction of the entire USSR.

Throughout 2020, I’ve written extensively about the dangers of misinformation, I’ve always expected the fabric of lies that our current Government has propagated over the past 4 years would come to a head. And they did so, when a mob of people under the influence of delusion entered our nations capital. Their intent, according to some sources, was to kill our politicians and “stop the steal”.

Over my time living in the state of Ohio, I’ve come to realize that People, as a populous are easily swayed. There’s an old saying that says “a person is smart, people are dumb”. But why is that? I think it can be compared to how people drive in the snow. How many times have you heard “people don’t know how to drive!” In reality, often that person is one of the very people they are impassionatly criticizing.

The Supremacy Bias

I believe this is a reference to a physiological bias. The bias is rooted in the thinking of what I call “supremacy perspective”. Basically, the perception of an individual is skewed toward a contrarian opinion based on the theory that they understand the world better than the populous. This bias confirms extremist ideas by working to convince reasonable people that they know something most others don’t. This hidden knowledge establishes itself as an element of the individual’s pride. They begin to think of themselves as superior to the populous as they know something others don’t.

A great example of this is the notion that 5G technology, in some way, causes the coronavirus. A factually inaccurate argument, but with the supremacy perspective, people took matters into their own hands and burned cellphone towers.

The capital rioters believed in their mind that they were right. They believed, through supremacy bias, that they were protecting the republic. In reality, they were working to destroy it on display for the world to see.

Our System Is Fragile

In the fallout of the Three Mile Island nuclear incident, President Carter’s commission that investigated the power plant found that the plant was so complicated, and significant failures between the machine human interface design contributed to a nuclear accident rated as a level 5 out of 7. An “accident with wider consequences”. The disaster prompted the development of the theory that which any sufficiently complex system will suddenly and catastrophically fail as a result of a combination of unimaginable and unforeseen events. In other words, if the system is too complex it is impossible to keep it from failing.

Our Government in the United States is a beacon of hope for our world. The longest standing democracy, we have weathered wars, depression, and crushing difficulty. And yet, as with any government, the government is only the government if we all agree that it is. Once we disagree who has power, we are doomed to anarchy. Our framers knew this was a danger and put in place a complex system designed to prevent the oppression that they experienced before coming to the new world.

This system had never been stress tested until 2020. By and large, the system failed. It failed to prevent a president who is a racist, narcissist, and a liar from entering office. It failed to remove him from office when crimes were committed in broad daylight in front of the public eye. We owe a great debt to God and the fortuitous and narrow escape of our congressional leaders who escaped certain death by the hands of a mob. Our system has been exposed, but it still stands. America will still be here in 2021, and the people have spoken. Trust and faith will be restored in the government.

Like with the Carter commission on Three Mile Island, I think a similar conclusion can be drawn. Instead of a machine/human interface failure, we have a dereliction of duty. Our system nearly collapsed because it required man to do the right thing. Our framers counted on the American people to reject politicians that didn’t act in the best interest of the American people. We narrowly avoided the consequences. Our system has to be improved.

A system will fail if it requires man to do the right thing.

Ultimately, 2020 will be remembered as a year of great turmoil for our nation. America will be stronger and better because of it. 2020 should be remembered as the catalyst for the importance of the truth taking precedence of belief system. It should be the launch pad for the restoration of trust in a Government that has lost its trust with the American people. Good riddance to 2020.

Author’s Note: I, in no way endorse any effort to overthrow or subvert the United States Government, and expect the Government to hold all individuals who do accountable for their actions. My thoughts are purely my own, and represent no organization or political affiliation.

An experienced cybersecurity leader serving as the President & CEO of The Penn Group. I hold the CISSP, CCSP, CAP, and Security+ certifications.

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