Fractals are patterns in nature that can been seen in many places: nature, plants, trees, rivers, even within our own bodies! Ronni and Brittany talk about how fractals and fractal systems in society can be seen as examples of emergent, or spontaneous, order.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Ronni: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Ronni.

Ronni: Okay, so a while back we did this little thought experiment and we talked about what would happen if the internet shut off. Do you remember that?

Brittany: I do.

Ronni: It was a fun.

Brittany: What nightmares are made of.

Ronni: But it was fun to think about how much we use the internet for everything in the modern world. So, today I was thinking of a similar question but a little bit different. And I have to admit, there’s a reason why this was on my mind. So on this weekend, it was a Sunday night, I accidentally kind of dropped my phone a little hard and it shattered. Now my phone’s taken a lot of abuse before, but this time I think it just hit the corner of something the right way and the screen shattered to the point where completely unusable. The little bits of the screen I could see were glitching. It was gone. I was actually really kind of sad when I discovered it. Probably more sad.

Brittany: I would be very sad.

Ronni: So, I had to wait all the way. This was like a Sunday evening. I had to wait all the way until the next morning when the cell phone store opened to be able to go in and get a replacement. So, I had to go a whole 12 hours without a cell phone, but it got me thinking during that time.

Brittany: I couldn’t survive. I wouldn’t do it.

Ronni: I know that was the thing I realized, I was like, oh my goodness, so tethered, so attached to my phone and it’s gone and what do I do? So, that was on my mind when I was thinking about podcast topics to talk about today, because like I said, we talked about the internet being shut down earlier. So this time let’s talk about what if our cell phones were all everywhere, they all stopped working. Not only would the cell phone service shut down, so we can’t make any calls, but let’s also, for the sake of this thought experiment, pretend that the electronics of it shut down too. We couldn’t charge it anymore. It’s just dead. It’s just this dead piece of metal in our hands. What would we do?

Brittany: I would not be, and I had my phone stolen before, but I actually always have, It’s funny you say this, I always have a backup phone, so I always keep it.

Ronni: Oh, you do?

Brittany: I always keep the phone that I had before my current phone. I actually have three of them now. I have three backup phones.

Ronni: Hypothetical. The backup phones are also gone.

Brittany: I know. And so this I don’t like because I think we forget everything has been put into our phone. So, it might be so like, oh, it’s just your phone. But every piece of information, my bank information is on my phone. I don’t even carry a wallet anymore. I use Apple Pay.

Ronni: You don’t really

Brittany: Go. Yeah, well, I have a wallet and my ID, but yeah, I don’t ever take out my debit card. Even restaurants now are accepting Apple Pay. So I don’t know what I would do. Everything would be gone. I wouldn’t know how to function.

Ronni: I mean, I was just thinking about pictures and I know you can back them up to the cloud and get them on your computer. But again, in my hypothetical here, I’m going to pretend.

Brittany: The cloud wouldn’t matter.

Ronni: The cloud doesn’t work. And so any pictures that you have not actually saved to your computer’s, hard drive are gone. And just years of all of our memories, it’s just wrapped up in this little phone. I am feeling this from you just across the airwaves. And I don’t know if our listeners, maybe not the kids, but maybe the parents who are listening are probably also feeling this little bit of terror at the thoughts. But I think that’s why I wanted to ask it because it think it’s helpful for us to realize the importance we’re putting on this. And what if something were to happen, so I think you mentioned this earlier, but phone numbers. What would happen if your phone was gone? Let’s say you have a landline still and you want to call your mom. Do you know your mom or your.

Brittany: I don’t know my parents’ phone number. No, I know the first three numbers. That’s it. I don’t even know my best friend’s number.

Ronni: I know my mom’s number and my husband’s number, but both of those numbers are cell phones.

Brittany: Oh, so that wouldn’t matter. Yeah, that’s true. And I don’t, I have one friend who has a landline in Los Angeles and I don’t know her landline number and it wouldn’t matter. I don’t have a landline and I have not seen payphones in a while.

Ronni: I don’t have a landline either. Although I have talked about getting one. I do think that it might be a good idea to have one just in case all of our cell phones shut off.

Brittany: Well, they cost almost nothing these days.

Ronni: So, it might be good to have, but I just haven’t done either. I suppose we could email each other if we still have internet, See, oh, in this scenario we still have internet.

Brittany: If we still had internet, we still had our computers. This wouldn’t be that bad because once you have your phone numbers. I have a Mac and an Apple computer.

Ronni: Wait, let me specify here. Your cell phone is gone. I’m also considering any information from your cell phone that you’ve stored on a cloud service.

Brittany: Well, that’s not how Max works. Max, you actually have an app that is your phone. So all my text messages go to my computer and my phone at the same time.

Ronni: Well, let’s pretend that’s gone too, for the sake of my thought experiment.

Brittany: But Ronni, then the whole internet would have to be gone because it’s the internet.

Ronni: Any information that’s at all part of your phone is gone. But if it’s just the internet, then it’s okay. Think let’s go back in time when there was internet, but no cell phones.

Brittany: So, that wouldn’t be too bad because you’d have Messenger. Would you have a messenger? Would you have social media or no.

Ronni: You could have social media. So, you would have to connect through social media.

Brittany: That would be because I have some friends whose numbers I don’t even have. I just talked to them on Facebook Messenger and they’re like good friends. So I think that’s different. That’s a game-changer. Now, if we had no internet or cell phones, then it would be bad. But I think it’d be okay if there was the internet.

Ronni: What if you need to drive somewhere?

Brittany: Oh, I don’t drive, but I Uber everywhere. I couldn’t call Uber if I didn’t have my phone.

Ronni: And the Ubers, unless they have a built-in GPS, they also can’t drive you anywhere because, and you know what?

Brittany: Unless they have those old-school GPS, you’re right, because GPS is on your phone. Yeah, that’s a good point because I used my phone as my wallet. I couldn’t buy anything if I was out and I didn’t know that cell phones, if I was going to lose my phone and I didn’t have my wallet, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I couldn’t get home. It would be scary.

Ronni: Yeah, I don’t know. So, having the internet I think would be okay, but I do think that we still use our phones enough that it would be really bad. I mean, again, this is just me for 12 hours, didn’t have my phone. Oh, you know what I also realized says, yeah, like you said, messaging. So I talk to a lot of friends and I use messaging apps that don’t have internet.

Brittany: like Signal or WhatsApp.

Ronni: And so that was, I actually, I remember being like, I can’t text this person. I don’t even know. And then unfortunately when my phone, when I had to get a new phone, I couldn’t because I did not back things up to the cloud correctly. By the time I got my new phone, I lost a lot of messages and even contact information that I’d saved in some of these messaging apps and they were gone. And I was like, oh No, what do I do? How do I can’t connect? I mean, yeah, it’s fine. A lot of people you can still, or you wait for them to text you and then I have their number again. But in my thought experiment scenario here, that doesn’t exist either.

Brittany: Well, I rely on my camera so much. I do take pictures of a lot of things. When I do comedy, I record it on my phone. So, I’m very dependent on even just the camera feature of my phone. So it would be weird not to have that.

Ronni: You’d have to have an actual camera.

Brittany: Do you remember those? I used to have it. We used to have, back in the early two thousands, everybody carried around a digital camera. That was like the thing, you had your cell phone and you had your little digital camera.

Ronni: But your cell phone was a flip phone that it was.

Brittany: If you were cool, it was a flip phone. Yeah, that’s true.

Ronni: But it didn’t even have, yeah, it had nothing on it. You couldn’t do anything with it.

Brittany: There are funny videos online that parents and teachers will, they call it the millennial quiz or the Gen X quiz. And what they’ll do is they’ll ask their Gen Z or younger kids, what is a fax machine and what is a CD. They have the kids are trying to figure out what these things are that are so common to us. We grew up with them that they just don’t know. And it’s so funny, I am assuming we sound like old people sitting here like, oh, well back when our flip phones and it’s just Like, oh, Without cell phones. Sorry, go on.

Ronni: So, parents out there who are listening, if you’re listening with your kids, you should try that with them while your kids are probably thinking, I dunno, who would be worse here in the situation? Probably right now, parents who are listening are the most reliant on their cell phones. So, maybe the kids don’t, if they don’t have a cell phone, they don’t understand. But parents, you should find the older technology and bring it out like Brittany’s saying, and see if your kids have any idea what to do with it. Like a cassette tape. I think I was watching one of those videos and the kids are like, wait, how does this work? Do I plug this in?

Brittany: That’s so strange. I mean, that was how I used to record songs off the radio with my cassette tape. And you’ve said parents, but some of the kids have iPads, which they’re not phones, but it’s similar that you’d think like, okay, think about when I was a kid and we had road trips or we had airplane trips, we had to entertain ourselves.

Ronni: We had to bring coloring books.

Brittany: So, many books and coloring books and I remember cassette tapes, Walkman, I had my Walkman and sometimes I would get, my mom would get those. Remember you’d have storybooks that had the cassette that went with this. Yes. And it’d be like when it dings, turn the page with a bunch of those. And so that was what we did. And let me tell you, car rides were so boring. Yeah, it’s crazy. So, even though we didn’t have phones back then, but I mean I think if you would’ve told us what the equivalent to a cell phone would’ve been, well I don’t think you could even do that because a cell phone is like 15 different things combined into one. It’s more, yeah, it’s a scary thought.

Ronni: So, I think all in all, the overall takeaway is we are very reliant on technology. And I don’t think that this is anything that’s going to change anywhere in the near future. However, we should always be careful when we are overly reliant on something, especially, but something that can very easily disappear. In my case, it was just my phone got busted, but we’re not controlling the cell phone company. So, if something happened to the cell phone company or the power company, how quickly you can lose all of these things that you were so dependent on? So I would encourage the parents listening and the kids listening to just always in the back of your mind, have an idea of how to do things. Worst case scenario, if something happened on the thing that you’re happened to, the thing that you’re relying on.

Brittany: Yeah, that’s a great point. And I am living in fear now, Ronni, of whatever happens. if I lost one of my four phones that I gave.

Ronni: Don’t think fear, think, oh, this just gives me a reason to be prepared and think about it.

Brittany: Oh goodness, other if my phone dies, I panic. Alright guys, well this was a fun topic. This might be a fun thing to talk about with your families. Maybe what would you do if you didn’t have your iPad on a road trip? What would you do if you didn’t have your phone while you were waiting for something? I think it’s a really interesting experiment. But yeah guys. Alright, awesome. Don’t forget to like and subscribe and share the podcast with kids. I was going to say with kids, with your friends. And until next time, we’ll talk to you later.

Ronni: All right, see you soon.