Whether sparked by the recession, the end of the Mayan calendar, natural catastrophes or turmoil in the Middle East, many Americans are preparing for the ultimate worst case scenario—doomsday.
All around this grand country of ours, people are preparing for the day when all of society breaks down, civility loses the battle with man’s savage nature and humanity reverts to a new dark age.
If fact, this growing movement has gained so much traction that there are even television shows and dating sites dedicated to the idea of doomsday preparation. One particular show called Doomsday Preppers, which I admit I’m a fan of, takes a peek into this growing American subculture.
Many of the so called “preppers” profiled on the television program differ vastly from one another. The show broke the common misconception that all doomsday preppers are either gun- loving Jesus freaks or survivalist nuts, a stereotype that while true in some cases is not the status quo for all those who plan for the worst. For instance, one particular episode profiled a family who didn’t believe in arming themselves at all. They considered themselves pacifists.
Most of us go through life without giving a second thought to the end of world, but is there any validity to a complete social collapse? Unfortunately, the idea of a doomsday scenario may not be so farfetched.
Those of us who lived in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots or even the 1994 Northridge Earthquake remember how quickly what we call society crumbled for a brief period. However, one doesn’t even need to go that far back in history.
Look at New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, for example. The whole area fell into chaos within a very a short span of time. Even some of those sworn to uphold the law turned their guns on the very citizens they took an oath to protect.
As for natural events such as big earthquakes, super volcanoes or an asteroid striking the earth, scientists will tell you that it’s not a question of if it will happen, but when. Of course, the chances of an asteroid hitting the earth, Yellowstone’s super volcano erupting or complete financial collapse may be very slim in our lifetimes—but they do still exist.
Also, when one begins to discuss the idea of "the Big One" mega quake or super bug, the probabilities for a worst case scenario begin to rise. Those living in the San Gabriel area are all too familiar with power outages, fires and mudslides, so preparation is nothing new for many of us.
A good emergency preparation plan will keep you alive for at least a week or two. However, learning what plants are edible in your natural areas, what animals to hunt or how to maintain a good sustainable garden can stretch that time even further, which is what a doomsday preparation is meant to be—a plan to survive in case the lights never turn on again.
Yet, the most important element stressed by every doomsday preparation book or show is the building of a community.
Getting to know your neighbors and learning how to contribute and depend on each other are as critical to survival as any other necessity, which is what makes sites like Patch so great. Most electronic mediums of information tend to disconnect people but Patch allows people to come together by providing a venue to post events, share ideas and make announcements.
I know what you are thinking; did he just take this doomsday column and use it to plug Patch? Yes, I did. After all, the internet will be one of the last things to go in case of total collapse.
Of course, there is also a psychological element for those obsessed with doomsday. The advent of agriculture, technology and the information superhighway were meant to make our lives easier, but some would say they have failed to do so. Instead, most of us seem to be enslaved to our iPhones, computers and jobs, making societal breakdown and freedom from our electronic chains an enticing scenario.
On average, hunter gatherers worked around five hours a day, and I’m using the term “work” loosely because much of their work was playful, according to many cultural anthropologists. Modern humans spend more time working than our hunter-gatherer ancestors and most of that work is unpleasant, confined to the indoors and completely out of touch with our primal nature. We as, modern people, are under a lot more stress than our primate cousins or primitive ancestors.
It's my opinion that this overburdening of work, anxiety and stress has led many to the fantasy of a doomsday. The day when everything stops, society falls apart and the insistent beeping of the alarm clock goes silent.
Doomsday, if you will, is almost like a permanent snooze button pressed by the universe, and social collapse is retirement.
I’ve got my garden, a friend named Remington and a surprisingly optimistic outlook for the future should the world fall apart. Like the preppers of National Geographic fame and survivalists worldwide, I’m perhaps a little bit nutty, but I’m also ready for my everlasting hiatus.
When the man comes around, I'll be ready—will you?
Patch Asks: Do you believe in doomsday? If so, how have you been preparing for the event?