In 1999, Alan White had everything: a house, a wife, a life full of promise. But when the clock struck midnight on January 1st, 2000, that all changed.
n retrospect, the Y2K scare was trivial. Predictions of a worldwide shutdown caused by our reliance on computers were exaggerated and the population as a whole survived unscathed.
But one man had his life erased. His name is Alan White. More accurately, his name was Alan White. There’s no record of him ever having existed.
At midnight on January 1, 2000, his computer exploded, the first of many dominoes to fall as Y2K wielded its power: his electricity went out, his bank account vanished, and in the fire caused by the explosion, he lost valuable paperwork including his marriage and birth certificates.
Less than a month later, penniless and determined to live off the grid, his wife would leave him. Since then, he’s squatted in his two bedroom apartment in Kansas City, Missouri.
That’s where I met him. It looked like a war zone: no power, no gas, no heat. White compared it to the scene at the riotous Woodstock ‘99. When I asked his age, he admitted he’s lost track of time and doesn’t know what day it is, never mind the year. He claimed to be born in 1967, though there’s no way to substantiate this.
“If I had a social security number, you could probably do a quick Infoseek search to find out I’m 43 years old,” White told me. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that not only was his math incorrect, but that his favorite search engine was long gone. At one point I’d mentioned Google and he nodded along awkwardly, afraid to admit he’d never heard that word.
Chalk it up to the close to thirteen years living in solitude, but White was quick to welcome me and my camera crew into his house to document his life. He kept patting us on the back and muttering something about a museum. I surmised that he thought our coverage would be some sort of free marketing for what he referred to as “The Y2K Experience,” but I didn’t care. Our tour of his home was fascinating, a glimpse into a life that no longer is.
Below you’ll find the footage from our visit. And click through the gallery above for a photographic journey of a life destroyed by Y2K.
Alan was gracious enough to give us a tour:
Alan White: Matt Walsh
Photography by Scott Garrison
Video by Brad Schulz
This article was originally published May 2013