“Bro, you hear about that one in Ecuador, it was a solid 8!”
‘’Dude, you feel that one in Toronto? Barely noticed it was there. Think it had to be like a 2, tops.”
I’ve been relatively silent on this issue for a long time. Pretty minimal with my vibrations. But just because this sort of talk has been commonplace for so long doesn’t mean it’s okay. It’s time for me to take a stand.
For decades, we earthquakes have been subjected to objectification at the hands of the abhorrent Richter scale which ranks seismic activity on a scale from 1 to 9. Seismologists say it's necessary for risk stratification, but all it really does is create disunion, animosity and poor self-image within the earthquake community.
Earthquakes like myself that are considered a “2” or below on the Richter scale are denoted the official classification of “micro.” This does not do wonders for our self-esteem, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. How do you think a tremor in London feels when BBC News briefly mentions it as a “2” between other news stories and then a day later, it hears breaking news of an earthquake in Nepal that’s a “7” for which Bono is doing an entire aid concert for?
Some of us are given such lowly classifications in part because we are considered barely perceptible by humans. I think it’s downright Mean Girls-esque to define us based on our “noticeability.” It’s not our fault we don’t cause massive tectonic shifts. It’s San Andreas’ fault.
But I’m not surprised given that these seismologists are outstandingly superficial. They will only ever really give you the time of day if you’re a “6,” maybe a “5.” They just spend their nights scrolling through their Seismograms, looking for the biggest, “baddest” quake to evaluate. Those arrogant Richter 8 shockwaves are fully aware of it too. They know that their earthquakes bring all the boys to the yard and they definitely take advantage of it, in my opinion.
And you don’t even want to know how these seismologists purportedly talk during those discourteous annual meetings of the Seismological Society of America. It’s your standard “Aftershocker Room Talk” like, “Oh bro, did you hear about that solid 8.3 in Pakistan? Man, I’d love the opportunity to measure it’s S wave amplitudes for any Rayleigh wave anomalies with my Geode DZ, 3-D Seismic System®.”
Pigs. Just deplorable.
I’m done living by their rules. So what if I don’t adhere to your outdated standards of what a “great” earthquake should be like? I don’t need a bunch of geeks with PhDs in seismology to tell me my worth. I am a strong, independent, intraplate earthquake with good near-field vertical ground motions. I don’t need a bunch of tools telling me my worth. Tools like teleseismometers, geophones, and seismometers.
By the way, did you know that the man who created this discriminatory scale, Charles Ritcher, was a nudist and avid Star Trek fan? I’m not going to let an anti-undies, Spock-worshipping nerd dictate my worth, no thank you.
The media doesn’t help either. Hollywood is ever only interested in earthquake movies about “Richter 9s” like in San Andreas and 2012. Just once, I’d like to see a movie where the plot involves Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson using his big muscles, his killer smile, and his Kevin Hart to reassemble his wife’s ceramic vase that shattered after a light tremor rattled his suburban San Diego bungalow.
One group I do however consider to be an ally are the elderly. They treat the slightest tremble like it’s the rapture. Have you ever seen how they react to the slight turbulence of their airplane landing? They clutch their seats and close their eyes as if they’ve just blasted off into space on Apollo 11. They really boost my self-confidence.
I shouldn’t have to concern myself with these superficial rankings anymore. I already have a lot on my tectonic plate. Did you know that there’s an entire field of engineering dedicated to silencing us? They call it “earth-quake proofing.” It’s institutionalized discrimination if you ask me.
What I propose we do is start classifying all earthquakes as “9s.” Yes, it might put a slight damper on disaster evaluation efforts but it would make us earthquakes feel a lot better. And isn’t that what matters most at the end of the day? I hope one day I can overhear the news anchor reporting on me:
“This just in, there’s been an earthquake in Sacramento. The earthquake has caused absolutely no casualties or property damage but is being described by the CalTech Seismological Lab as a catastrophic Richter 9. One IKEA VITTSJÖ coffee table might have collapsed but it could be unrelated, likely from poor assembly.”
Oh, I’m just shaking thinking about the prospect of my long-awaited recognition.