We Brought This On Ourselves: How we have defined our own Apocalypse

In this day and age you can’t throw a digital rock in the internet without running across a post or a picture about the Apocalypse, whether it is Zombie, Chimp, or Truck-apocalypses. Even a satirical post I wrote a while back remains one of my highest hitting posts since I’ve started this site. We as a society, have some inert fascination with the complete and utter destruction and downfall of the civilized world. It’s on television, movies, t-shirts, video games. This trend of defining our end has become so oversaturated that it has gone above and beyond just sarcastic comment. There are dedicated websites with rules of survival and how to prepare for impending doom.

From the beginning of rational thought, man has pondered how it all will end. We are consumed by the thought of our demise, and how we would handle it. That is nothing new. What is new is the idea that our downfall can contain fun and excitement. Almost a Live Action Role Play of some film or book we’ve read, but without the Role in it. People have spent countless hours debating their own personal survival strategy. They’ve taken online quizzes to prove to their friends that they could outlast an oncoming horde of zombies by using wit and a double-barreled shotgun.

Where has this all stemmed from? Where was the obsession born and why are we so enamored with our inevitable destruction? For me, the answer is also the catalyst that will define the cause of a breakdown of society, and we are unable to stop it.

The answer is: Technology

Before you hit ‘back’ on your browser, or push the screen on your I-Phone, humor me for a moment.

As I stated, we’ve become obsessed with our end to the point in which we have made a game out of it. And why is that? Because we have at the same time, become bored with life due to its convenience. If like me, you were born in a generation before everyone had the internet or even a cell phone, you probably remember spending a lot of your childhood outdoors. At that point everything was an adventure; you had the possibility for discovery. Now, that has been pretty much wiped out.

What can I do for you?

These days if you have a question about anything, a quick Google search or a look at Wikipedia will list off the basic understanding, and you move on. Any song or video is directly at your fingertips. Want to order groceries? You don’t have to even go to the store. Everything your mind could possibly come up with is almost 99% of the time likely to have hundreds if not thousands of WebPages, images, or videos associated with that thought or idea. Go to YouTube. Type in anything. You will probably find multiple videos. Click on that video, and then hey, there is a related video, and another, and another. Three hours later you look up to realize that you’ve spent the better part of a day looking at random clips and you don’t know why. It is as if the internet was a physic vampire, one that feeds off our own necessity of it. We’ve become so lavished by convenience that it has taken any sense of freedom or adventure out of our own lives. Instead of doing something, we have read or seen someone else do it, and don’t feel the need to do it ourselves.

Think about smartphones for a minute. I was over twenty when I got my first cell phone. The phone I first remember having was a rotary phone. Now, with the touch of your finger, you can play games, watch movies, upload pictures to Facebook, and countless other features right on a tiny screen. Parents will get their children these phones and keep them busy with Angry Birds for hours on end, instead of say, reading to them. These children are already as advanced as adults are technologically and that isn’t stopping. We are breeding a generation that has no will or need for discovery. It is all available so why work to get it?

Technology in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact it is great. We have learned so much and grown as a society because of it. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to have so many people read something I wrote without it. I’ve also met many people from all over the world and formed new friendships that would have never been possible without the invent of this technology. While that is all amazing and fantastic, it also has brought about a horrible trend over the past 15 years that is now going out of control.

This trend is a shift in ego/morality. Due to the fact that so many conversations are now had either through text message or online, our actual meaningful face-to-face conversations are practically gone. And with that has brought about the death of self-censorship. While I believe it is a great thing to stand up and speak on things that are important to you, it is not a good thing to take away basic human filters of respect for other human beings. Look no further than any internet forum or comment section and you will find some of the most hateful and malicious speech you could ever imagine. And it is so rampant now that it isn’t even shocking anymore. Anything that you at one point might keep to yourself is now thrown out at random with no thought on how it might effect someone else. When someone dies, Twitter is abuzz with who’s joke about that person’s death can top the next, while at the same time we jump on our high horse when we feel someone is breaking our personal belief of political correctness. We feel now that we have been given the ability to say or post anything we want without repercussion because it is done under the guise of an anonymous handle, but what we don’t realize is that the line between fictional online personality and real life personality has blurred. It is one and the same. Just because it is posted under a different name, doesn’t make you different if you would actually say it. It is still your thought.

Even our individuality has become a thing of the past. Scroll down through your Facebook feed sometime and notice how much of it is made up with memes or pictures that someone else made or came up with, that are now shared as our own personal beliefs or sense of humor. We rely on something else doing the work for our own creativity. It is as if we have become part of a collective, a hive mind that regurgitates everything we say or are back and forth forever.

Mother?

It is not just in our homes anymore. Everywhere you go these days, almost offers as incentive to visit, a free Wi-Fi connection so you can stay ‘up to date’ even when you are taking a shit in their bathroom. We can no longer go anywhere without knowing that at any instant we can jump online to check the latest trending topic. Look around at a restaurant the next time you go out. You will see multiple people at the tables but you will also see most of those people with their heads down in their laps, clicking away at their phones. We take pictures of what we eat and have to share it with others, like some need is forcing us to document every waking moment because if we didn’t we would no longer be relevant. Even our language, which can be so poetic, lyrical, and beautiful, has turned into an ugly mash-up of internet lingo and short abbreviations; as if we don’t have time to spell out an entire sentence for fear that a digital sheep in Farmville will die if we don’t. It seems to me that we have become afraid of personal contact and can no longer interact unless it is through some other means of communication.

Technology can be a great thing, and I am just as guilty of some of these sins in this article as anyone, but therein lies the problem. We are dependant of the technology we created. Have you ever left your phone at home and had a panic attack when you realized you didn’t have it? I went 20 years without having or wanting a cell phone but now I would freak out at the thought of someone not being able to get a hold of me for even a few hours. Why do we NEED to be connected all the time? We can’t live in the moment anymore unless it is something that has been shared over and over again online. Which brings us to the second point of this discussion. Why this will also bring us down and how we’ve created our own demise.

As much as we are reliant on technology now, just imagine what it will be like 100 years from now. After generations have passed and no longer has the general population NOT been raised online. That would be the society they know, the life they know. But what happens when that all stops? What if one morning you woke up and tried to turn on the lights and they didn’t work. Your cell phone wouldn’t turn on and your computer screen was blank? You go to check the time but it is not working anywhere. You need to get to an appointment but your GPS isn’t working and you’ve never even seen a map before. You go to heat something up in the microwave but that doesn’t work, do you even know how to start a fire to cook food with?

We like to think that in these fake apocalypse scenarios that we would be crafty enough to survive the flood of mutated rabbits that has swarmed the Earth, when in real life, ¾ of the population would die off from small common occurrence. Some would just drink water from anywhere causing them to get some sort of bacterial infection from drinking unclean water, some would starve to death, some would freeze or be unable to provide themselves with basic shelter. We become so attached and owned by technology that just basic human survival isn’t understood by the general masses, because up until this point you could just Google it or watch a video. It is not a true ‘learned’ skill; it is a skimmed understanding and something that no longer comes as instinct.

Those that would survive the destruction of technology would now be faced with the greater threat; each other. Now forced into a situation where people have to face and deal with each other in real life, they no longer hold even the slightest understanding of social grace or acceptable behavior. As bad as the YouTube comments are today, think what years and years of that unfiltered speech and thought will make people into. These people, when faced with each other while not on a website, will not know how to handle each other. We always say ‘You wouldn’t say that to someone’s face’, but what if down the road we would, because that is the only way we know how to speak? Those left would most likely end up killing each other because they would take the battle out of the forum and into real life.

 

So what can we do to stop this, if anything? Unfortunately there isn’t a great answer. Technology will continue to grow and we will continue to be changed by it. However, while we are still in the infancy of this brave new world, we have the opportunity to shut off the phone, to stop looking at the internet. Life is all around us, it hasn’t stopped, we’ve just stopped paying attention to it. It is real and it is wonderful, and we only have it for such a short time, why spend it all in a mode of vicariousness?

Let’s go exploring.

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31 thoughts on “We Brought This On Ourselves: How we have defined our own Apocalypse

  1. Well said, Kloipy. This is something I’ve been thinking about lately (why? I don’t know. I probably saw something online about the apocalypse…). While I love my phone, I now make a concentrated effort to not have it by me at all times and if I leave home without it, well, I leave home without it, whatever (although I do automatically panic thinking that will be the day I have a wreck and actually need the damn thing). I actually spend a lot of time outdoors, in the woods (much as a I did as a child) and every time I do lately, I think about stuff like what do I do if I get lost? Which side of the tree does moss grow on? Can I find charcoal in the woods to filter water? Crap, what am I supposed to do if I meet a bear? And the all important thought every time I go trail running – “Heck, yeah I can outrun zombies in the woods now.” 😉 Although there’s lots of kids growing up from babydom in technology, I can attest to a whole lot of kids also not being raised that way, which is a relief. So there’s still hope. And I think if we each pass on to those younger than us (when we can and when it’s appropriate) the value of exploring and adventure, then maybe we’ll be okay. Maybe. 🙂

    • Thank you for the comment Misty. I spend a lot of time out in the woods as well (how I grew up and I love it). It scares me sometimes though just to think how much we rely on technology to help us through normal day to day things. I just think our obsession with this speaks to our apathy for everything else.

      No longer can I really take anything posted online seriously. It is as if everything is a joke that people are too hip to laugh at. I am glad to hear some of the younger ones are not being raised this way. I strive to raise my daughter how I was. To appreciate the world around her, not just on the screen

  2. Heh.

    Any interesting and well written post. A very nice read, well thought out, and thought provoking.

    That said, I’m still of the mindset that things are better and I favor the advances of the internet, cell phones, etc. The connectivity advantages outwiegh the relative disadvantages. Sure, there are a number of drawbacks and cautionary tales, as you… illustrate well, above.

    But we’re gonna be alright 😀 Life’ll go on. and if you want to go hiking, your phone can assist.

    • Thanks Fogs! I wish I could be more positive, and I do see a lot of positive sides to some social issues from the younger generations, but I think deep down I’m a luddite, and would be happiest in a little log cabin in the woods, with lots and lots of books, shaking my fist at the young raccoons playing on my lawn haha
      Cheers my friend!

  3. If one takes a look at much of the Sci-fi and Horror short stories written in the 1960’s and 1970’s, our dependence on technology is directly related to the destruction of society.

    There is a wide variety of causes, but it all comes back to letting techology take over so much of what people did and then letting technology be self repairing, that eventually, people are no longer able to maintian it and when the repair functions break down, and the tech starts to fail, people no longer know how to do for themselves.

    Unless, of course, the tech just takes over. Before there was Skynet, there was AM or I AM.

    Then there are variations of societal breakdown caused by people no longer needing to deal with each other anymore (it’s amazing ((not really)) that they managed to create the concept of extreme interconnectedness leading to extreme physical isolation via vid-phones that actually is happening based on the internet) or attempts to control over population due to advances in medicine keeping everyone alive and healthy.

    In fact, most of the seeds of human destruction based on techological advancment were recongnized 40 to 50 years ago and are now coming true.

    • funny thing is I find no terror from robots or anything like that with technology, I think it is like the old Twilight Zone ‘The Monsters on Maple Street’ where the true monsters are us

  4. Good post …I will try to be short and sweet…I just simply think we as people are still cavemen in comparison to where we are in managing technology and the science… I’m sure only a few cavemen grasped fire when it became the norm and I bet a lot just sat and looked over the other guys shoulder as he started the fire not having a clue. Basically we are a planet of dullards to the most extent where maybe 2% might actually have some real intelligence that is usable. There are close to 7 billion people on the planet and climbing …and were getting dumber day by day…I just hope we become more civil day by day at the same time is my only wish…:)

  5. It’s a creepy thought. I honestly think that if the internet suddenly shut off with no way to turn it back on, people would die. Literally, some would be so depressed/confused, they’d kill themselves and others would be so angry, they’d kill someone else. And then yeah, the net-free apocalypse. It wouldn’t be the end, but it would be something to see (and kind of fear).
    So I’m trying to discipline myself to enjoy the world around me, not just the one in my computer. That way I can show my kids what a life is like without a power cord and they can rise up against the tide of drones that will no doubt one day flood the schools.

  6. 1. The fat lazy stupid navel gazing 20 somethings and under are dog food in any sort of bad situation but since they are too stupid to realize that they won’t drain my resources that much.

    2. Me and people like me will survive probably flourish. I will miss M&M McFlurries though.

    3. Technology makes people weak and useless and further you douche nozzles NOBODY GIVES A CRAP ABOUT WHAT YOU ATE OR INSTAGRAM PICTURES OF YOUR FOOD OR THE NEW SHIRT YOU BOUGHT. You are not interesting in anyway get use to that fact numb nuts. Oh and by the way hot broads once you hit 25 you become less interesting exponentially each year you age its a hard truth deal with it.

    4. ‘You wouldn’t say that to someone’s face’ yes yes I would.

    • I know you would say that to someones face Xi haha 🙂 I really don’t understand the urge to tell people a blow by blow of my day as if anyone really cares. Posts here and there aren’t bad, but the constant, i did this, me me me.

      The one that drives me nuts are the people who constantly post FML (which I recently learned means ‘fuck my life’) and it is always proceeded by something stupid like ‘I got stuck at the red light on the way to work, FML!’ Really? Your life sucks that bad?

  7. “Even our language, which can be so poetic, lyrical, and beautiful, has turned into an ugly mash-up of internet lingo and short abbreviations; as if we don’t have time to spell out an entire sentence for fear that a digital sheep in Farmville will die if we don’t.”

    Stunning article, sir. Couldn’t agree more. (he says as he logs on to Twitter to suck once more at the dangerous digital teat of the mother cow)

    • Thank you so much. Like I said in my article, I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to this as well. I’m even afraid if I don’t buy my kid her own laptop she won’t be up to speed with the rest of the class. How is that even logical? Thanks again for reading and I appreciate the comment

  8. There’s a part in the movie, “God Bless America,” where a kid is going crazy because her mother bought her a Blackberry instead of an iPhone. Scares the living shit out of me.

  9. Oh, blah.

    When Society collapses, I’ll be fine. And I have an iphone and everything.

    Because I’ll leg it to spain, and live off the land.

  10. Sorry I haven’t been around much lately, but my book, The Bellman Chronicles, will be FREE to download on Sept. 10 – 11! Check it out on my Amazon Kindle page.. You won’t be disappointed. And if you can slip me a review, I’d be forever grateful…

  11. Great post, sunshine.

    I use the bus to go to and from work. I sit at the back usually. And it’s amazing to see how many folk are either talking on a phone or are hunched over a phone rapidly typing away. I switch mine off on the bus! I don’t need it, any conversation I might want to have can wait, any message I might want to send can wait and if anyone’s trying to reach me in an emergency – there’s not a lot I can do about it on a bus.

    I’m like you, I get out in the country, isolated places where I struggle to find a phone signal anyway. That said, I have reference material on my phone I can quickly access that would otherwise require me to stuff my backpack with a dozen books. So there are positives.

    And when I send a text, I always make sure I spell every word in its entirety; no abbreviations from me, mate! At least I know what ‘FML’ stands for now…

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