Imagery like the examples above have become mainstays in modern media—indicative of a society collectively obsessed with an apocalyptic future. Oppressive governments necessitating a monumental revolution, an uncontrollable disease wiping out 80% of the population, massive weather change making Earth uninhabitable, alien occupation, a zombie apocalypse, the flavor does not matter; mass strife is all that is needed to capture imaginations.
Simply turn on the TV or walk into a bookstore and you will find the topic is pervasive. Think you can get away from it? Check your social media feeds, call a friend, open your eyes and there it is, unmistakable. Just a contemporary craze? A modern mania?
“Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common.” -circa 2800 BCE, Assyrian Tablet
Not quite the dawn of human civilization, but it would not be too far a stretch to suggest that since its inception men have been predicting the downfall of their respective societies.
Not a new phenomenon, but undeniably the fervor is increasing. No longer strictly the realm of philosophers and priests, apocalyptic prognostication is firmly entrenched in pop culture. But why? Could such a scenario be truly near? Well, of course, it could be, but as it stands Homo Sapiens live in greater collective ease and comfort than ever before. Today’s average lower-middle class proletariat experiences a level of convenience beyond that of kings and emperors past. A true struggle to survive as our ancestors knew it is further away than ever in our history and yet we are enthralled with the proposition of being locked in protracted contest for our lives.
Correlation? Or perhaps we have causation.
At first glance it would be easy to draw the conclusion that modern man’s obsession is just a manifestation of fear. Danger being the void which cannot be turned away from. Or fearing the prospect of losing all that has been attained, collected—brought low by the loss of all of the carefully acquired merchandise and comforts. Why not dread this when everyone has so much further to fall than before?
Yes, fear would make sense, except…
Fear is not the primary emotion present. Craving more than craven is my observation, though if being precise I would describe it as Sehnsucht; if only there was an English equivalent.
Perhaps doomsday prepper’s behaviors could be construed as fearful, but I contend that they are just the most vigorous rapturebators. Indeed, no other group of people is more invested in the occurrence of apocalyptic conditions. More than just validation, in a SHTF scenario many will have attained their ideal lifestyle.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
Ultimately these are not nightmares, but fantasies.
Whenever enough share a dream there will in time exist a market to exploit and profit from it. Where the arts create expressions of the dream (generally not without the bottom line in mind of course), news organizations are the peddlers of a counterfeit brand; an illusion that can easily feel real when the population’s collective selection bias desires it so. This has been exacerbated by the advent of social media where each violent act sensationalized by the news causes an outbreak of furious rapturebation; subsequently the reaction is news to also be sensationalized causing a circle-jerking epidemic.
We humans may enjoy our lives of extreme luxury where worry has become a hobby and we can spend time speculating on the nature of the new and astounding conveniences advancing technology will provide, but we were not made to have it easy. We have been made to struggle, and it has ever been our constant companion. A true friend to our species, pushing us to achieve more, climb higher, build bigger, to challenge ourselves and each other.
Humanity yearns for strife even as more of the population becomes complacent, living vicariously through surrogate sources of mortal conflict. However, even absent an armageddon, we are not through struggling because there will always be those who cannot say that enough has been done.
Just remember that it is okay to rapturebate, but don’t let a real worthwhile struggle pass you by.