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Some Children Just Want To Watch The World Burn

December 14, 2016

I think I was about 5 years old, maybe a little older. That would have made my brother about 7. We shared a room. And like most children, especially, young children, our room was often messy. My mother, I’m sure, used all the typical parental methods for getting us to clean it up.

One day we came up with a great idea. I don’t remember whose great idea it was, mine or my brother’s, but even 45 years later, I remember thinking it was a great idea.

We had a lot of games, Monopoly, Sorry, possibly even an early copy of Risk and a bunch I cannot remember. The games had a lot of little pieces. It was always a challenge to ensure that each little piece found its way back to the correct box. So we came up with this great idea of how to make it easier to fix.

We dumped the contents of all of the games into a big pile in the center of the room. We figured, in our elementary thinking, that somehow this would make it easier to sort them. We could “start over” and it would go better.

You can imagine how it went.

Yesterday, I talked about the need to “break things to fix things.” Some readers questioned if I was suggesting you had to always break things to fix things. Absolutely not. In fact, as my childhood experience shows, there are times where you should definitely not break things in your effort to fix them.

A few years ago, Bruce Willis and Justin Long starred in Live Free or Die Hard. The movie was significant for a couple of reasons. First, it was a Die Hard movie that wasn’t rated R. I try to avoid R-rated movies, and certainly don’t want my kids watching them, so I was happy to see a John McClane film that I could watch with my kids.

But, more importantly for this discussion, the movie was about “resetting” the America’s computer networks. The criminals wanted to destroy the country’s computer infrastructure so they can then step in and take control. The idea being if you control the flow of information, you control the world. Justin Long’s character describes the terrorists’ plan, called a “fire sale.”

A three-step systematic attack on the entire national infrastructure. Step one: take out all the transportation. Step two: the financial base and telecoms. Step three: You get rid of all utilities: gas, water, electric, nuclear. Pretty much anything thats run by computers, which today is almost everything. That’s why they call it a fire sale: because everything must go.

Later he describes the attraction that wannabe anarchists like him had to “reset the entire system.” Part of the arc of the movie, in addition to lots of gunfire and blowing stuff up, is Long’s character’s realization that as attractive as a “reset” appears, it’s actually a really, really bad idea.

Sure, sometimes you need to break things to fix them. Other times you don’t. The key to being an adult, and not a 5 year old in a room full of Monopoly pieces is knowing the difference.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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