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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Why We Love the Apocalypse

Opinion by Trevor Ogborn, Graphic by Julia Volzke

Why We Love the Apocalypse

We, as a culture, have romanticized the apocalypse immensely. Look at the more recent bloating in zombie culture, be it the “Walking Dead” -- which I admittedly am enthralled with, “World War Z”, or “Warm Bodies”.

 

Take the season four premiere of  “The Walking Dead” for example, which “scored an astonishing 16.1 million total viewers and 10.4 million viewers in the key 18-49 demographic, demolishing its former records and remaining television’s highest-rated series in the demo,” reported Yahoo! TV’s Tim Malloy.

 

“The Southern Reach Trilogy”, a series of natural apocalypse novels by Jeff Vandermeer, gained traction as it was released in three parts throughout 2014. “Station Eleven”, by Emily St. John Mandel, which follows a troop of actors and musicians after a flu pandemic that ravages the globe, was a National Book Award Finalist.

 

What does it say about our society that social destruction is so enthralling?

 

Perhaps we have constructed a world around us so complicated that the idea of it crumbling is an attractive option.

 

Our base instincts revolve around survival. At a base level, often hidden from our awareness, we are driven by primal needs like satiation and sex.

 

Around these needs, however, we have built up other requirements. In order to survive in the society we live in today, we need to succeed in school and excel at work, all the while navigating the social complexities and moralities of this constructed world.

 

As a result, stress is a constant part of our lives. We are always striving for that A+, that promotion at work to pay the bills, and that idea of social normalcy. Historically, however, our stressors were derivitive our basic needs and purely served for survival. This is how we evolved.

 

The apocalypse, for some, seems to be an escape from the constant stresses of modern society. I have certainly found myself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice to only be responsible for my own needs and, therefore, my own comfortability and survival?”

 

Am I alone in this?

 

We have built a thriving cultural society, with a population bloating at over seven billion people. We have clearly come a long way as a species, so I have no room to complain. We are where we are because of the constructs we have put into place. But consider that perhaps we have over complicated things, and that we crave, in some small part, a release.

 

What are the societal implications?

 
 

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