On this New Year’s Day, it is fitting to ask: Why are so many people obsessed with apocalypses? Why do so many people not only believe ridiculous things like the Mayan Apocalypse, but seem to want to believe them? On Boing Boing, Aengus Anderson says he has an idea.
Behind much of the apocalypse talk and the questionably-ironic zombie preparation classes at REI is a sense that something fundamental is out of balance. It may be impossible to articulate but, on a low level, we feel a sense of disquiet.
I began thinking about disquiet as I was working on two sprawling radio projects. After recording long conversations with nearly four hundred strangers about the past and present, I began to hear a common refrain rise out of the clamor: the future was scary. Nobody could agree on the cause, but they shared a narrative structure.
Having such a dark view of the future that apocalypse seems like a welcome outcome seems foreign to me. But then, I don’t have such a dark view of the future. I think that humans will adapt–it’s what we have always done to become the dominant species on the planet. During the Black Death, the world really did seem to be coming to an end, I’m sure. But centuries later, Europeans were still around, producing the Renaissance and doing just fine, thank you.
I think our problems now pale in comparison to a plague that kills 25% of the population. We have an amazing societal transformation underway now as we incorporate computer technology in the very fabric of our everyday lives. We’ve got problems; we may have to abandon large areas of coastline, there may be famine or massive bird flu epidemics. But we will make it through. The future is bright for the human race.