“You know that you’re a Conch, don’t you?” I said to my son as we watched hurricane Irma churning toward the Florida Keys.

“A what?”

A Conch — that’s what Florida Keys residents call themselves. The Keys are also sometimes referred to as the Conch Republic.

Aren, my 15-year-old, was born in South Florida and lived in Key Largo until he was two. Now we were watching his birthplace being engulfed by one of the largest hurricanes in recorded history.

You don’t have to be a Keys native to care about what happens to Florida in the next few hours. We all care. But it’s particularly troubling when you’re watching your former home, your South Florida friends, all those memories, being sucked into a vortex.

In consumer advocacy, there are all kinds of vortexes. There’s the enormous, unseen vortex of corporate greed that pulls in your money. There are the vortices of mergers, which take two competitors and turn them into one complacent and avaricious monopoly. And there are content vortices: category-killer news organizations that suck in all of the little guys and brand them like cattle.

They are all terrifying in their own way, but none more frightening than Irma. Her raw power is enough to make the National Weather Service tweet ALL UPPERCASE warnings, and that’s pretty scary.

“It’s not going to be that bad,” Aren said. Ah, the optimism of a teenager. I hope he’s right.

Today, I told him, we are all Conchs.

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