Can Andy hold back the future?
From The Andy Griffith Show episode, “Stranger in Town” comes an odd episode that could find its way on The Twilight Zone. Ed Sawyer comes to town and knows too much about too many. Look beyond the laughter. Read 5 ways the episode predicted our future, applying ideas right out of the Internet.
Number 1: Loss of privacy
Ed Sawyer was the 1960’s version of Edward Snowden. He spooks everyone with his uncanny knowledge of too many presumed to be safely private. Like Snowden, his allegiance is questioned. Barney wonders if Sawyer is a spy or a holdout from World War II. Is he a squealer or a teacher? Will Mayberry become obsessed with what he knows? Or will they learn how too easy their personal information is collected, distributed, and sold across the globe?
Number 2: Social networking and engineering
Ed Sawyer may not have the World Wide Web, but he does have his network. His “social engineering” skills gives him powerful information. He reads, deciphers, and hacks into human and printed systems giving him the data confidential to Mayberry. That would be a newspaper and a blabber-mouth friend. He turns around leveraging his data for both personal and financial gain.
Number 3: Social followers
Ed Sawyer’s vocal “blog” of the happenings of Mayberry goes viral. With only a few comments, he has a number of followers, literally. After checking into the Mayberry Hotel, Andy looks up his profile. Who is he? While the Internet did not exist, the group uses mass communication, television, to come up with ideas and conspiracies.
Number 4: Speed dating
Ed Sawyer is in love with Lucy Matthews. He doesn’t need an introduction, knows everything about her and he’s just warming up! Ed’s “speed dating” rivals the 21st century. His first “date” doesn’t work out, however. He comes across as just creepy and not in a cute way.
Number 5: Trolls
When you start getting attention, many of your followers won’t be your friends. Here, we get an early glimpse of social “trolls”. A mob of the easily-angered quickly offering advice that really isn’t all that good. Ed Sawyer gets an introduction hearing his trolls SPEAK IN CAPS. Ed learns early, just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean strangers will like you. With The Andy Griffith Show, it was called “Stranger in Town”. Today, it would have been called “A New Web Site”.