September 22, 2020

BY TONY MCLELLAN

In the past, humanity feared the so called “end of days” or “Armageddon” to the point where discussion of the subject would only take place when absolutely necessary, or would be brought up by figures interested in controlling a population with fear.

This is not the case at all in modern culture, with the complete and utter destruction of society becoming one of its most popular focuses.

Recently, the untimely demise of human civilization has been a primary focus in all types of media, be it novels, movies, television or the Internet.

From novels detailing ways to survive the zombie apocalypse and films about Earth fighting back against mankind to reality television, where real-life families prepare themselves for “the inevitable end,” humanity seems to have a sudden appetite for the apocalypse.

But why? Why do we fantasize about the end of the world? Why do we think about living like bloodthirsty savages in a land ravaged by plague, monsters and other bloodthirsty savages when most of us panic when we misplace our cellphone? I have ideas, but no definitive answers.

I honestly think that this whole fixation with the death of society is due to the restrictions that society places on us.

As human beings, no matter how much we saturate our lives with technology, advanced learning and intense socializing, there exists a primal being within all of us. It is not something which we can eliminate.

Sure, outlets like sports or other forms of physical exercise can serve to suppress or focus this inner animal, but that hidden beast is always raging in silence, demanding release from the chains of self-restraint.

It’s this inner suppression that I feel is the root cause of our recent obsession with the zombie apocalypses, or societal destruction.

Those events taking place would almost guarantee the unchecked release of “the beast,” and the satisfaction of the primal desire to kill and pillage.

Whatever the case, I sure hope the apocalypse doesn’t actually happen, because society won’t stand a chance when the undead actually start rising.

If you think for a second that your middle class, suburban existence will allow you to morph into a ruthless, zombie-terminating commando overnight, you’ll probably be that one guy who dies day two from eating an expired can of Spam.

For most of us, society has killed much of what enabled the human to rise to the mantle of apex predator, but left all of our ambition, our pride and rage, in place.

This is a recipe for destruction, but not the kind humanity could easily adapt to.

One response to “The end of the world won’t be as cool as we think it will be

  1. Hmm, well written, but i think its a little heavy on the impossible apocalypse. I do hate to be overly critical, but the obsession with zombies isn’t recent. It has been over 40 years by film standards if we go by George A. Romero’s successful independent film. Literature has been using zombies for centuries, but the ones we know today are likely influenced by Lovecraft and Frankenstein, but now i’m losing scope and descending into the social sciences and philosophy of epistemology, and that’s not the intent.

    What I’m trying to get at was the idea that real ‘apocalypses’ if you can call them that, would be far more interesting to theorize.

    The technological singularity (when an AI could build an AI smarter than humans.) would be an interesting way to die out. A place where human intelligence, the thing that have gotten us to the top of the food chain and so very far advanced, would mean nothing. There’s no real reason at that point that our survival as humanity, would be necessary for the survival of said AI’s survival.   Any mediators we would have between us and Skynet or what-have-you would give us anything we want, save relevance.

    (we’d either end up as pets, or just smart enough to pose a threat, then extinguished)

    Or how about trans-humanism? The idea that eventually we will become more than human, adapt like we always have through evolution, doing so would change what it is to BE human. Personally, i think this would be the most likely, assuming we don’t blow ourselves up, but I’ll get to that next paragraph. Most fiction assume it would be assimilation with technology, usually a melded hive-mind, and we’re already partially there. I personally carry a communication device everywhere that can give me the collective knowledge of thousands of people, and I wear a device on my head that improve my biologic vision. The internet is already a partial hive mind of many, many collected consciousnesses, and it has rules and social interaction that is worlds apart from the real world. Forums, Reddit, chat channels, twitch does Pokemon; think briefly if you would have to have that sort of interaction constantly, in your own mind. If you didn’t go mad, you definitely wouldn’t be the same person you were, probably not human at the very least.

    (We’d still technically be around, but we wouldn’t be us anymore. This is like the Ship of Theseus. If you replace Tony’s arm. are you still Tony? What about the entire the human body, are you still Tony? what if you replace just the mind and soul, is it still the same Tony McLellan? what about all three? At what point do you stop being Tony?)

    Back to your article; A closer re-imagining of your stated concept of ‘the beast’ would be more along the lines of where we start to slide backwards evolutionary-wise. Not full-on planet of the apes, more like barbarism come back into style. Hell, it never really went out of style, it just formed a new way to abuse the systems we have in place today. There’s so many ways this could happen too. A new world war could start. Diplomatically, tension between global super powers rises, and forces one nation’s hand. a lack of resources on the earth, or within reach of the country that needs it. and that’s just a few i can come up with.

    (in this example, the paradigm shift is no change, just that human emotion cause us to act irrationally, be it crazy, stupid, short-sighted, or any combination of the above. it will likely result in highly explody, lethal radiated death.)

    An experiment was conducted on rats where either the rat could be fed, or have the pleasure center of their brain stimulated, and the rats starved to death every time. It is possible we let our hubris win out, and find a way to cause our species to become sterile. We are biologically programmed to ‘get it on,’ but science has also progressed to the point that we can live a life of bliss without ever siring any children.

    If we really want to get theological, religion gives us a plethora of true apocalypses, but its a touchy subject for some, and there’s too many to note here.

    In the end, I think the end of the world will be as awesome as we think it is, but in a different way. Dying with a whimper is not boring if you consider the means to which we got to our gravestone. 

    -Shadehawk

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