{DISCUSSION} Romanticizing the Apocalypse

Why do we romanticize the apocalypse?

The apocalypse. This has become a popular thing in recent years, featuring in books, movies, conspiracy theories, and the like. It’s like the new fad: The Hunger Games, Rittick, Mad Max, The Day After Tomorrow, The 100, After the Dark. There are hundreds of these stories out there. That’s not to say the human race only ‘just’ came up with the idea of an apocalypse, but we seem to be so much more fascinated with it nowadays to the point where people actually fantasize about an apocalypse. Don’t believe me? Ask a millennial.

Millennials are (in my experience) the most likely to romanticize an apocalypse. How could they not? It’s in their books, their movies, their TV shows. In fact, they spend so much time thinking about it that they have a favorite type of apocalypse. Most popular one: zombies. No doubt this has to do with The Walking Dead, Zombieland, and countless other pop-culture representations of the zombie apocalypse and monopolizing on that are games for hunting zombies (like that’s preparing millennials to hunt them in real life) or there’s even surveys that tell you just how long you’d survive in the zombie apocalypse based on how you react to specific situations. Yet, it’s all a joke.

Millennials, or all ages of people, can imagine a fantasy world where they survive the apocalypse (whatever form it may take), but the truth is that most of us (if not all of us) will die in the apocalypse. Why? Well, first because the lack of preparation. By the time the human race realizes we are in the middle of a full-scale apocalypse, it’ll be too late for most people, especially those living in cities. Let me break it down to a series of events that would make it nigh impossible to survive said apocalypse.

  1. Loss of electricity.
  2. Loss of sewage removal.
  3. Loss of water filtration.
  4. Loss of food production.
  5. Loss of control.
  6. Loss of life.

In whatever form the apocalypse takes, one thing is certain: life as we know it will start to break down. We’ve seen it before in other catastrophes, such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. If lack of food is possible, people rush to the store (guns, knives, tasers in hand) and take what they can for fear of running out. Yet, that collected food only goes so far. Without electricity (because no one goes to work in the apocalypse to make sure electricity is still being pumped into your house) there is no way to keep food fresh and those processed, canned foods won’t last forever. Unfortunately, when food is threatened, most people take on animal instincts to obtain more: by fighting.

That’s where the loss of control comes in. How long before the police stop trying to defend people when they, too, have no food and their pipes ran dry in their house two days ago and they can’t keep their houses heated or air conditioned? How long before people shoot each other over the tiniest scrap? How long before the entire city is a war zone and only those brave (or stupid) enough to venture out of their homes survive?

Of course, by the time this happens, water filtration is gone: meaning your water is likely parasitic, lead-filled, or not coming to your house at all. Or worse, the sewage system fails. Either way, your quality of life is diminishing quickly and you’re still stuck within downtown with gangs on all sides and no way out.

“Well I made it out of the city early,” says the snooty kid who still thinks an apocalypse is a cool idea.

“Really? Great. Where’d you go?”

“To the country side.”

“By yourself?”

“With my family.”

“And what supplies did you take with you?”

“Food. Water. Weapons.”

“Cool. Do you have enough food to last you six months, a year, two years, longer?”

“Uh…”

Say you did make it out of the city like the snooty kid. First off, congrats! You made the smart move because living within or near a large city during the apocalypse is the worst decision you could ever make. It’s not safe and there is no way to produce food or gain access to fresh water (even if you’re right on a lake.) That lake is gonna be controlled by the gangs at the first sign of a water shortage, but that’s okay. You’re miles out of the city with no one on your tail.

So you brought a couple guns and knives, maybe a few weeks worth of food and water, but now what? Where are you going to go? You can’t go North. The zombies may not like the cold, but neither do the plants. In other words, you can’t grow crops for 5-7 months of the year (maybe longer depending on how far North you go). So you are either pickling a LOT of fruits and veggies to keep enough food during the winter or you’re attempting to find game so you can salt the meat and preserve it. Either way, it’s not ideal. You’ll be lucky if you make it through the first winter and that’s if you don’t lose your crops to bugs, rabbits, or looters (because they’re gonna be everywhere.)

South it is!

Say you settle somewhere along the Mason-Dixon line. South, but not overly-hot South. Now you have to set up a shelter for you and your family and a way to protect it from looters (or zombies depending on your apocalypse… or both). Then you have to get farming and maybe hunting, a way to feed yourselves. Make sure you have a source of fresh, clean water nearby (assuming you didn’t choose the nuclear apocalypse in which case the entire world is now covered in ash and all your water sources are contaminated. Along with your air.) After that you-

Oh crap!

Johnnie nicked himself on the barbed wire being used as a fence around the property and now it’s infected. What are you gonna do? You can’t run to the local pharmacy and pick up some antibiotics.  Nope, that leg has to come off or Johnnie is dead because the apocalypse will set us back hundreds of years in health care because no one is working the factory to make more meds and you can bet anywhere that has meds is looted or a trap.

I could go on for days with this, but I’m pretty sure you understand my point: the apocalypse is not a good option, nor should ever exist in our future and yet… people are still romanticizing their lives in the apocalypse. Why? Why do they imagine a life post-apocalypse would be so cool when they don’t know how to keep themselves alive during the apocalypse, much less are aware of everything that’ll happen?

Heck! Most people can’t even leave the house without a cellphone. What are you gonna do when that phone is a deadweight and you have to find other means to communicate with people and entertain yourself? (assuming you have time for entertainment and aren’t scrambling to survive.)  It just doesn’t make sense to me, but what I think it really comes down to is the fact that people often have ‘superhero-syndrome’. They think they’re invincible.

They hear crazy stories about how people die, were injured, or kidnapped and say ‘that’ll never happen to me.’ The people who romanticize about the apocalypse are the people who don’t truly understand the implications of an apocalypse, and I didn’t even mention what would happen to the nuclear power plants that no one’s taking care of anymore… >.>

/rant

Do you think you could survive the apocalypse? I’d love to hear what you have to say on this topic in the comments below! ^.^


And check out my discussion from last week:
English Education

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15 thoughts on “{DISCUSSION} Romanticizing the Apocalypse

  1. The apocalypse has been so fictionalized and big-budgeted, there ceases to be a connection to the real world. Any warnings within are lost. I’ve always liked the genre, but mainly those on the more realistic end, such as William R. Forstchen’s One Second After (and sequels) or Steven Konkoly’s Perseid Collapse series. A couple old classics like Alas, Babylon and On The Beach or that forgotten Emergence by David Palmer that introduced the post-apocalypse female protagonist long before the Hunger Games. Unfortunately, Palmer never continued the series.

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    1. Ah. I would like to make a quick note: Hunger Games isn’t post-apoc. A war happened, for sure, but that makes it dystopian. There is quite a big difference between the two (and I’m very picky about improperly using genres. :p)

      But yes. It has become rather frustrating the way media has made the apocalypse out to be one big, fun experience when life as we know it would cease to exist. My biggest issue with a lot of these representations are the way cars still manage to function. Um… Excuse me. Where are you getting all that gasoline from? Though, I will state that one modern TV show that seems to be doing a good job of representing realistic post-apoc is The 100.

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  2. I grew up in an era when there existed a real possibility that 80% of humanity might be snuffed out in a thermonuclear war on any given day. Nobody wanted to survive because radiation sickness is not fun. I always lived close enough to targets to have to worry about that… Anyway, no, I would not survive or want to, even if it were just a bunch of zombies. (Side note – today when they talk about the effects of a nuclear blast they ALWAYS talk about a Hiroshima size bomb even though Russia still has thermonuclear weapons that are 200 times that size.)

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  3. I would not want to survive a doomsday-like scenario, nor do I fill my precious time reading about or watching various versions of the apocalypse. I understand it’s one way of dealing with the angst about our future, but I think there are more constructive ways to do so. I don’t want to contribute to all the negativity already in existence. I think what we need more of is hope, not despair.

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    1. That’s a very interesting take. I hadn’t really thought about it being negative. I saw it more as being realistic to presume and even expect an apocalypse of some form at some point. Though, I may just be an awfully pessimistic millenial watching society destroy itself. :/

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  4. I’ve discussed this idea with people and I think you’re right in saying the millennials are the ones that tend to romanticize the end of the world. I’m on the outer edge of that generation at 30, I was 14 on 9/11. Many of the rest of the 35-20 age group that I think are the millennials (I may have that wrong) were in middle or elementary school, some of our first memories of world events is that day. My elementary current event memories are the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine school shooting, 9/11.
    The generation after the millennials, Gen Z, I think who are the teens and middle schoolers of now, have grown up in the post 9/11 world and have known a time when the United States wasn’t at war. There has always been a threat. It can sometimes feel like the end of the world is coming.
    Literature has always mirrored current events in some ways. So to me, this trend in literature, especially Young Adult literature makes sense to me. People under 35 think about the end of the world because that’s the future that we see. The pace the world is going on it could happen. We don’t fantasize a metallic future with robots, we see a bleak terrible future.

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    1. Yes. I am in that younger millenial group (4th grade at 9/11), and I can attest to many of my peers fantasizing about an apocalypse. Likely because we’ve grown up with so much negativity. Things seem to only be getting worse as we grow older, become adults, and become part of the work force. Doesn’t leave us with much hope for avoiding an apocalypse.

      Haha! Robots. That reminds me of the baby boomer generation who presumed their future would involve flying cars, hoverboards, etc. We envision no future. Yet, I’m still confused as to why we focus on the end rather than trying to prevent the end, especially when we are now of age to do something. You know?

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      1. Now I feel old! I was a sophomore in college on 9/11 and deployed shortly afterwards. The early war isn’t history, it’s my life story (Iraq 03 & 04/05). I’m amazed at how a few years can change your perspective. I remember Columbine and the OJ Trial, both happened while I was in school. I have vague memories of the Wall falling, though as a military brat that stuff was crucial intel. If it went to crud, my family would be on the tip of the spear. Okay, enough rambling……

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