I believe in the chaos theory, the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings on the Jersey Shore (if a poor butterfly can breathe in Jersey) eventually becomes a typhoon in the Asian Pacific. Or the story of a man sent back in time, and instructed to stay on the path before him. The slightest deviation, a broken twig under the heal, sets off a chain reaction through history, to where the traveler returns only to find his own world completely foreign, just by a once-unbroken twig a millennia ago.
We do our “best” to ward off radical groups and moral extremists – I put “best” in quotation marks because we usually do so through radical, extreme, and immoral measures ourselves – in an effort to stop the chaos theory from taking hold; one small group, growing and growing, into an uncontrollable monster that cannot be stopped. That may sound a bit dire and fantacized, but if the chaos theory does hold water, we have to acknowledge that it’s possible. Our government certainly does, as do many other governments across the world. Trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost over just the last decade to squash such groups before they grew larger. Think back to the McCarthy Hearings for you older folks reading.
The reason that this has never happened in any history – where a mob grows exponentially and becomes a destructive, untamed force – is because one of the problems with the chaos theory is that, at some point, the mob runs the risk of growing too large to effectively communicate. Without a sense of direction, anarchy and, indeed, mob mentality might be strong enough to make the group continue to grow, but, as with all things chaos, it might not. There are an infinite number of possible outcomes. So, without that communication component, the mob runs the risk of getting “too big for its britches”, so to speak. Well, that and we tend to make these groups explode into lots of bloody, gross pieces before they grow bigger than someone in a tuxedo at a state dinner decides they need to be.
So, how could massive amounts of people – from all walks of life; all colors, races, creeds, religions – communicate quickly and effectively with each other, seamlessly, in an organic flow of transmissions and receptions that are fed directly to all members of the mob simultaneously? If only 1/3 of the planet already had devices in their homes, or even portable devices that they carry on their person, that granted them access to this kind of free-flow information aggregation; some sort of constantly-connected interface that can access the entirety of mankind’s accumulated knowledge, plus various information and social networks to communicate en masse.
It’s no wonder that none of our children will probably ever know a world without war. We’re setting ourselves up for new ones every single day. And, much like waiting for some sort of seismic anomoly, I fear the big one is coming…