My Generation and the Apocalypse

I know most of you have probably heard about the Mayan Apocalypse thing. For those of you unacquainted with the background of that mallarky, I direct you here http://www.science20.com/cool-links/confidence_nasa_releases_why_world_didnt_end_yesterday_10_days_early-99129 That explains the whole business better than I could right now. Essentially, it was an odometer thing. A massively misinterpreted one. If only people paid this much attention to the Check-Engine and Temperature Warning lights. 

It’s still the holiday season, and I’m still knee-deep in the requirements of the celebration, so I’m going to keep this short, but what is up with this generation?! I’m not complaining about our music, or them damn trends I have to live with, I mean the world-ending mind-set. Every couple of years, the world is supposed to end. For half my life, people have been telling us that this is it. It’s enough to give a guy a complex. 

I’m starting to wonder if it’s affecting our attitudes, though. Sometimes, I think that people are so ready to embrace the end of the world because it’s scarier to think that it might go on. Look at how much things have changed in the last twenty years. The twentieth-century, first-world mind-set isn’t quite ready for the changes that may come soon. Globalization is a hard enough concept to swallow without the threats of genetic manipulation and the Singularity on the horizon. I know, it’s a bit off, but perhaps closer than we think ( I’ll write about that in a future post). Basically, if we continue on the course we’re going, then things are going to get more complicated more quickly. It’s terrifying. It’s almost like the death of everything we understand. In some ways, it is the end of this world. Either way, this end-of-the-world fear is real. 

Are people ready for the world they’re creating? Do we even have a place in it? These are becoming more than academic questions (as they all eventually do, that’s why academics ask them). Not so much for us, but we can feel the tension in the future. Our children, or at least theirs, will have to answer questions of intelligence, of space-travel, or of survival under severe conditions. That, or they’ll have to work with whatever outcome they’ve and we’ve cobbled together. 

Basically, I hope this end-world nonsense comes to an end. As gaming advances, I see for it a spot as one of the more important mediums in the world. The most. The ability to make someone live a story, and make them understand some decisions, will finally answer the walk-a-mile-in-alien-shoes problem we’ve been grappling with for most of our existence as a species. Also, I’d like to get back to planning ahead, without the possibility that it’ll all blow up in the end any ways being shoved down my throat. I know it’ll end, but not now. Not soon. Not if we stop moaning about it, and get to work. Which, you know, we kind of are, if you’re paying attention.

The thing is, most generations do have to grapple with this attitude at one point or another. I’m sure that WWII felt like the end. The Cold War had the very real threat of extinction hanging over humanity’s head. I’m sure people of the past had more than their share of doom-sayers. I always wonder what kind of stink people raised when the year rolled over to 1000. I wonder how they were keeping track… surely not with electronic calendars. My round-about point is that we’re no different. Humanity has stood here before, in fear of the end. Our ancestors stood up and moved forward. We can, too. Even if it’s a limp, we make the world move with our day-to-day lives. It’s quite literally how we live. I’m going to get back to what I do, and you should, too. We can do it together (Cheeeeeeeeeeeeesy). 

So, let’s get out there and save the world as banally as possible, because that’s how it’s going to get done.
 

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2 Responses to “My Generation and the Apocalypse”

  1. Some fine points there about the generational threats which seemed so huge at the time but didn’t come to pass – I grew up in the 80’s being convinced that nuclear war was likely in my lifetime and wiser minds seemingly prevailed. For a while.

    The essential problem of human history seems to be a desire never to look further than your own concerns and to avoid planning for anything – hence the potential cataclysms we have to negotiate with quick fixes and vague hopes that something will get done.

    • Another part of the problem is that solving our current problems takes such Herculean effort that it’s hard to whip the public conscience into a frenzy of further effort, once we’ve been assured that we’ll trundle along for a bit more. We’re getting better, though. There are bright minds in the right places, making general gestures towards the future, and that’s as well as we’ve done in the past.

      I’m still amazed we managed to make it through the 80’s intact, but that, if nothing else, seems to validate the view that we’re making some progress. It’s not smooth, or pretty, or safe, or guaranteed, but we may yet limp into an aggressive planning posture, if we can muster the resources, technologies and people together.

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