Every fad runs its cycle: The ’50s gave us the hula-hoop, the ’60s gave us tie-dyed t-shirts, the ’70s gave us leisure suits, the ’80s gave us Cabbage Patch Dolls, the ’90s gave us Pokemon, and the ’00s gifted us with The Atkins Diet (on which I once lost 36 pounds and then gained it all back in a single year). Fads come and fads go, but the thing that they all have in common is that, when we look back from the viewpoint of history, we wonder how they ever became so popular to begin with?
Thus begins the saga of “Fracking” and its application to the very safe, heavily-regulated industrial process of hydraulic fracturing by activist conflict groups, the news media and the entertainment industry that has run a similar course over the past ten years. Starting around early 2008, we began to see groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sierra Club and other major environmentally-focused conflict groups using the term “Fracking” ubiquitously in their messaging campaigns to oppose the oil and gas industry the U.S.
The use of the term – which is adopted from the remake of the Battle Star Galactica series that aired during the early years of this century – quickly spread into the media, which is not surprising. After all, the term is stark, it is sexy, and it is adopted from a cuss word (In Battle Star Galactica, the term “Frakking” was used to describe the act of sexual intercourse) that had become well-known in pop culture. We first began seeing the term used in left-wing media outlets like ProPublica, but it quickly spread to the mainstream outlets, as journalists and editors began to see the use of the term attracted traffic to their websites.
Over the following few years, the use of the term expanded almost exponentially in the media and then into the entertainment industry, as the public became increasingly aware of the boom in shale oil and natural gas that “fracking” had made possible. (Nevermind, though, that “fracking” had to be wedded to horizontal drilling in order to achieve that feat – “horizontal drilling” wasn’t sexy enough to be used as a way to attract clicks on news stories , and thus almost never appeared in headlines, articles or movies.)