Pick Your Own Apocolypse

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A friend of mine (let’s call him Nels, because that’s his name) is one of those really gloomy types you sometimes meet.  He’s forever whingeing on about the way human beings are devastating and wasting the planet.  Sort of like doom scrolling personified.

Maybe I am shallow, blasé, and oblivious, but I just can’t abide that negative kind of thinking.  Obviously, in whatever form it eventually arrives, the end of life on Earth or the collapse of civilization as we know it will be a dreadful thing.  Still, it can’t be that much worse than the mind-numbing ennui one feels while listening to people fretting about it ad nauseum.  From social studies classes to daily news feeds to second rate disaster films, it’s a seemingly ubiquitous and never-ending topic of conversation.  And where does it really get us?

Besides, if and when it does happen during our lifetimes, will there not be a certain cachet in being, after all the countless generations that have preceded us, the very last human beings to walk the planet? If you weren’t lucky enough to see the recent eclipse, or score tickets to U2 at The Sphere in Las Vegas, take heart in the possibility that the coming cataclysm will be even more spectacular.

Of course, there is the en vogue philosophical conjecture that we are all of just living in a computer-generated simulation, anyway, and what we perceive as reality is merely an illusion perpetrated by a highly advanced species, presumably with a lot of time on their hands and an impressive research budget.

It’s possible, then, that the ways in which we each react to a climactic existential crisis will be a rich source of data for these creepy eggheads.  If this is the case, I am hoping that, as a reward for our valuable (if unwitting) service, our unseen overlords will allow each of us to choose the unique form of apocalypse that is most relevant, most aesthetically and spiritually satisfying to us as individuals.  At the end of the day, having it all end in fire or ice, as the poet Robert Frost predicted, seems dismally binary.  And the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is nearly as bad, offering the sort of limited consumer choice one might have expected to encounter in Soviet-era Russia.  Screw thermonuclear war, lethal pandemic, climate upheaval, and all the usual uninspiring iterations.  Some of us need better and more imaginative scenarios.

That said, many people would understandably opt for a comforting, familiar sort of Armageddon.  Their perfect apocalypse may, for example, involve the appearance (or second coming) of a preferred deity, followed by a pleasant afterlife as seen in religious prophecies.  Fair enough.  Should I be given the choice, however, I would definitely custom design a Judgement Day involving valkyries, centaurs, and the Tower of Power horn section, and pimp a “world beyond” that looks something like a cross between my favourite bookstore and Studio 54.

Or, let’s face it, maybe it won’t happen at all.  Maybe humanity will find some way to just keep limping along, or even manage to one day build a golden utopia amongst the stars, and all the hyped-up “end times” will be seen as just another fraudulent letdown, like sea monkeys and Fyre Festival.  Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next, won’t we?  Either way, I’m sure it’ll be a trip.