So it seems another apocalypse is upon us; this one supposedly foretold by both the Mayan calendar and a bad Roland Emmerich film from 2009. If you’re reading this after the 21st then I guess we made it and it was a load of pish. Alternatively you’re one of those survival freaks who managed to tough it out it in a tiny cabin on the edge of it all with a view of the mountains tumbling, a tin of beans and a surprisingly resiliant broadband signal.
I honestly didn’t even realise there was one on the way- I guess apocalypses (Apocalypsi?) just don’t excite me like they used to. I remember once when I was a kid my Mum sat down beside my bed and told me that there would probably be a nuclear war before the week was out: “…we’ll all die in a horrific radioactive fire, but don’t worry- we love you. Night-night.” That was pretty exciting; but that was back in the 80’s when the USA and USSR did actually seem ready to melt everything. Also I was a child, and thus by extension a gullible idiot.
The recent pronouncements of impending universal extinction have generally come from an over-excited media with their super-bug scaremongering (SARS, Bird-flu and Swine-flu all came and went without so much as a tickly cough), or the hate-filled exclamations of mad 90 year-old religious zealots like Harold Camping that have somehow managed to convince a small group of walnut-brained Americans that God is about to call time on all this sin and that they should get indoors and prepare themselves for rapture. I would have loved to have been there watching as the moments counted down- the doomsayers sitting there in their finest suits nervously looking at their watches, patiently awaiting the final tick that just won’t come and the awkward silence that follows when they begin to realise they’ll have to go on living here on earth with the rest of us. On occasions like that I think it would be a grand thing if any apocalypse came true only to the people who really believed it.
So I’m not worried; if a comet is going to somehow elude the astronomers and smash into us there’s fuck-all I can do about it. And in any case I doubt we’ll go out with a bang. We like to imagine it would take an incredible catastrophe to take us down- some aesthetically spectacular event befitting a species that perceives itself at the centre of the universe. I reckon it’s far more likely that we’ll gradually shuffle out of existence under the weight of our own self-importance. The Internet has taught us to value information over wisdom, to hate more than we love, and to prize virtual connections over the real across all facets of our experience. That will gradually become more extreme until people are forgetting to eat because they just can’t tear themselves away from Twitter in case they miss another mildly amusing sentence, and no-one will be making babies anymore because they haven’t downloaded the correct procreation app on their iPhone. There will be one smugly dissatisfied Youtube comment too many and we will disappear up our own arses leaving only an abandoned laptop and a Facebook status update that reads ‘Think I might have a cup of tea.’ That’s the real apocalypse of our society- and it has been underway for years.
Have a great Christmas.