He likened it to a scene out of an apocalyptic movie unfolding all around him.
Even Keith Muise recalls feeling more than a twinge of anxiety the moment he realized his cellphone was pretty well useless. The Fort McMurray resident, who was home vacationing in Stephenville, N.L., found himself caught up in the pandemonium Friday morning.
He could overhear a panicked conversation between his mother-in-law and a neighbour. It became abundantly clear to him and them, and thousands and thousands of other desperate souls across the Atlantic provinces, that this wasn’t merely a blip in Bell’s cellular network. This was a full-on blackout of unprecedented proportions.
“People were running down the streets like it was World War Z," recalled Muise. "We can’t text anybody for a few hours, what are we going to do!? It was pretty funny."
So, Muise decided to capture the insanity-inducing event in a two-minute 36-second song that would send thousands of Facebook users into a frenzy.
Written and sung by Muise himself to the tune of Don McLean’s American Pie, the rather hilarious video had been viewed more than 200,000 times by Sunday evening, just a couple of days after it was posted on the Facebook page 80s Summer Camp.
A long, long time ago, I can still remember how my cellphone used to make me smile
And I knew if I got a text, a pic or a video would be next and maybe I’d be happy for a while.
But August 4th it made me shiver, no texts or pictures were delivered. Bad news on the internet, our cellphones still won’t work yet.
From there, it takes off. His buddy and fellow 80s Summer Camp member, Jon Myers, is seated alongside him keeping a straight face, until this:
So, bye-bye network up in the sky, charge my cellphone all for nothing cause the system was fried
All the payphones have gone so I’ll just keep my dime, sayin’ this will be the day we all die.... Or, I guess we all could go outside.
Of course, it was all in jest, a way for Muise to poke a little fun at our running addiction to cellphones and computer technology, in general.
“The idea was, we’re going to have some fun and take a little shot at how dependent we are on technology. When our cellphones go down, it shouldn’t be cause for us all to be like, Whoaaa!!
"If the power goes out for three days, then there’s time to panic. It was an opportunity to poke fun at our infatuation, and I count myself included in that group. But I was shocked to learn emergency services are so reliant on it."
But the video is also part of a larger story, a story about one man’s quest to spread cheer far and wide.
The video and the Facebook page can be traced back to a particularly dark period in Muise’s life. Just over a year ago he had experienced the devastation of the Fort McMurray wildfire and the death of his father-in-law. Muise, a special-needs teacher, had a choice to either dwell on his and his community’s misfortune, or channel his energy into more uplifting endeavours. He launched the 80s Summer Camp Facebook page.
"We’ve grown into a little group with our 80s Summer Camp page. It’s about getting outside and interacting more and going back to the grassroots to kind of old-time fun.
"It came after the lowest point in my life. I was thinking, 'What do I do? This is either going to snowball, I’m just going to dig a hole and jump in, or I got to do something.'
"That’s the whole part of our positivity group, right? Anything positive, anything that will make somebody laugh. Anything good that we can put out for people, that’s what we'll do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a picture or a meme. If someone sends us a positive post on Facebook, which they do a lot, I’ll post it sometimes.
"Positivity group is just about adding anything positive to the internet. It was kind of like a two-pronged approach. In this case, it was like, all right, we’re going to have some fun and take a little shot at how dependent we are on technology."
The song itself took about 20 minutes for Muise to write, and the video a couple of takes to nail. Although not formally trained, Muise is an amateur writer who enjoys penning poetry and comedy sketches. He's also a former resident of Halifax.
Naturally, he's been floored by the reception.
"Blown away. So much enthusiasm that's provided more fuel to do more stuff. An old high school classmate wrote me and said, 'It’s about time somebody saw the fun stuff you guys are doing.' That really stuck with me. That feels good."