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Dude, Where’s My Apocalypse?

Despite what preppers and conspiracy theorists and morons who drive vehicles with “Zombie Response Team” decals might imagine, there is nothing cool about a global nuclear apocalypse.
| May 2, 2018 | 21 comments |

History was made this past week as the leaders of two countries locked in what was technically the longest-running current war (more than seventy-two years) pledged to end that war and scale back their saber-rattling. How this will all play out remains to be seen, but it is a dramatic step back from the precipice of nuclear war that seemed like a terrifyingly real possibility only months before. Of course, talk is cheap and we have all learned by now not to simply trust the words of politicians. However, there is definitely a global sigh of relief that things seem to be improving in at least one part of the world.

Image copyright Reuters

As the internet rhetoric swirled and spun and debates blazed and burned, I got the impression from many doomsday-focused people (also known as “preppers”) that a North Korea/South Korea-US war would be the spark that would ignite World War Three and bring about Mutually Assured Destruction for all parties involved. I can’t say if any of them are actually excited about the possibility of nuclear war but there must certainly be some degree of satisfaction from seeing one’s preparatory efforts pay off (as well as thumbing their noses at their incinerated neighbors’ corpses for not believing them). Now the threat doesn’t seem as dire and it’s more-or-less back to business as usual (whatever that means) in our crazy, chaotic world.

Yet despite what preppers and conspiracy theorists and morons who drive vehicles with “Zombie Response Team” decals might imagine, there is nothing cool about a global nuclear apocalypse. Books, movies, and video games have made the irradiated wasteland and decimated cities into bullet-riddled playgrounds for heavy metal fashion shows. History has shown us plenty of examples of what to expect from a total war scenario, and even the nightly news gives us a glimpse of what a global catastrophe might look like. Entire city blocks reduced to rubble are now the defining landmarks of Syrian metropolises and despondent, ghost-like figures walk the streets in a daze. Roving bands of outlaws prey on the weak, and murder, rape, starvation, and misery are constant occurrences. Imagine if this was in every major city in the world. Famine and disease would be the most fearsome enemies, and every remaining resource would be quickly consumed. Desperate

Image copyright BBC

survival would be the only law as any remnants of civilization would evaporate.

One of the most gripping and presumably realistic apocalyptic movies is an old British film called Threads. It is relentlessly grim and bleak and has one of the most horrifying endings of any film I’ve seen. In typical British fashion, this film strives for unflinching realism, which does not make for a particularly entertaining movie but it is certainly captivating. Fantastical elements like gladiator vehicles and fashionably-tattered leather outfits are nowhere to be found. It is just tragedy after tragedy, which is how a nuclear war would unfold.

The Bible, especially the Book of Revelation, foretells the horrors and despair of a global cataclysm. Revelation 6:14, talks about the sky rolling back like a scroll and the mountains and islands are moved out of their places, and Revelation 8:8 describes a mountain of fire thrown into the sea. Plagues and devastation cause the people of the Earth to cry out for the rocks to fall on them to hide them from God’s wrath (Rev. 6:16). People won’t become road warriors or zombie-slaughtering conquerors; they will become like animals, scrounging through the dirt to find anything that will keep them and their families alive.

Of course, these scenarios are why preppers hoard their food and ammunition, but something tells me things wouldn’t turn out the way they see it, either. Even in small-scale catastrophes, no one remains untouched and sheltered. Fortune may favor the prepared mind, but it is folly to think that preparation or bravado are enough to hold the apocalypse at bay.

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notleia
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notleia

Ugh, preppers. What I don’t like about them is that they WANT the world to go to pot so they can play White Savior and their toxic masculine behavior is supposed to be an asset rather than a liability. (Except it will prolly still be a liability, because pro-social behavior is what makes a community more than the sum of its parts.) They’re just as status-hungry as a gold-digger but less honest about it.

And they don’t even do it so they would actually be successful. They stockpile gross dehydrated bucket food and ammo, but do they store water or water-filtering supplies? Generally, no. Human civilization arguably began with the invention of string, but do they learn to spin or weave? Nope.

Travis Perry
Editor

It’s interesting to me that many of the preppers I’ve personally known have been women. Not that I’ve known a huge number of preppers, but I have known some, some via the Internet (where you meet all kinds of odd people).

Perhaps they were unaware of their “toxic masculinity”…

notleia
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notleia

Most of the ones I’ve known have been dudes, one of whom was my ex-boyfriend who like to fantasize about how valuable he’d be when society collapsed. Maybe he’s matured since then, but I doubt he’s had either the awareness or the motivation to fix it.

Women aren’t immune from toxic masculine thinking, tho. They just have more opportunities for it to bite them in the butt, from inside as well as outside the tribe.

Travis Perry
Editor

To be more overt with my communication, I think you are in error to attribute being a “prepper” to toxic masculinity alone. People are complex–your ex-boyfriend was not the only kind of person to engage in this behavior. Some preppers are obsessed with ideas of protecting their loved ones–perhaps we could call their motivation “toxic femininity” in such a case, since protecting loved ones at all costs is generally more of a feminine trait than a masculine one (e.g., mothers are more protective of babies than fathers, generally speaking).

Though I would guess you would assign toxic behavior to men/masculinity alone from previous comments you’ve made. It seems to me you must have been raised in a Christian family or something like that (maybe you had a very devout period in your life at one time instead) to keep commenting on a Christian site like you do. Yet the comments you make suggest you have gone through a radical change in viewpoint, where you now think most Christians are dumb and most ideas associated with (at least American Evangelical) Christianity are dumb and some version of a naturalistic universe is actually the truth, a universe in which, among other things, feminists are correct in everything they believe (or at least mostly so).

You know, trading a right-wing(ish) set of mental paradigms for a left-wing(ish) set does not constitute actual thinking. Yes, you may have gone through quite a lot of thinking to become disillusioned with what you used to believe, but it seems you are just as willing to pigeonhole and stereotype as we think of Christian Fundamentalists as doing–you’ve simply switched stereotypes in the opposite direction.

“Toxic masculinity” and “white savior,” while they may be based on reality to a degree, also function as insults used at times to bash people different from those using the terms. They paint straw man pictures instead of dealing with real issues. The casual use of such terms in fact avoids real thinking.

In this particular case, some level of preparedness for disaster is simply rational. Some people take things that make sense and way overdo them. Whether they do so because of OCD, toxic masculinity, “toxic femininity,” or other reasons, I’m not entirely sure. But I think it makes sense to avoid over-generalizing.

notleia
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notleia

Nah, controlling and oversheltering parents is not restricted to gender. My dad was/is actually the one more prone to controlling behavior. I don’t know what exactly I’d call “toxic femininity” unless you mean Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists, who I will freely admit are jerks.

I could link you to a whole bunch of articles about toxic masculinity, but The Toast is now taken down and that’s where most of my favorites were.

Travis Perry
Editor

Ah. My parents divorced when I was nine, my dad was largely absent after that, though since he drank, that’s not all that terrible (thank God, literally, that my father doesn’t touch alcohol anymore). After the divorce my mom morphed into the ultimate super-permissive parent. I could do virtually anything I wanted when I was a teen, whenever I wanted.

To me it seemed my parents’ permissiveness/lack of control was destroying them. I knew there had to be a better way. I found that way in God, basically by myself, in my own study of various books, including the Bible. I had been to church when I was little, but church attendance ended not long after my parents divorced–though I was a huge science fiction fan before becoming a “serious” Christian, especially so-called Golden Age science fiction, Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, Clark, and some others. At one point I came quite close to becoming an atheist. I’m glad I didn’t go that way.

I could call the super-permissiveness of my mother “toxic femininity” if I wanted to, I suppose. She was actually very physically protective of us, but otherwise rather believed if we flew free in the world (no matter what we did), all would be well. It didn’t turn out well with my two sisters. (Mom had issues with authority figures and authority itself at times–though she has radically changed concerning that.)

But I’d rather not blame my mother’s actions on thinking it somehow stemmed from her gender. I supposed I am predisposed to see behavior as having individual motivations instead of lumping a person into a massive category. I tend to dislike massive categories for human beings–though sometimes they’re called for, terms like “toxic masculinity” usually strike me as stemming from unthinking, knee-jerk reactions.

If that’s not fair in your case, I’m sorry.

notleia
Guest
notleia

Oh, I can and very much do judge people on an individual basis, very judgingly :P, but I think there are macro trends, so to speak, that are worth pulling into the analysis.

Also my parents have been married for 36 years. To each other, even.

Also LOL if you think I’m all that radical. I’d settle for universal guaranteed basic incomes even without eating the rich.

Travis Perry
Editor

I know plenty of people I would say are more radical than you (say, my two neo-Pagan sisters). However, such people do not regularly comment on overtly Christian websites…for what that’s worth.

Travis Perry
Editor

Oh, by the way, if the narrative I’m imagining about you is in any way correct, of course your parents are still married…
(it’s what you think about me that’s totally wrong–as far as I can tell)

notleia
Guest
notleia

I like to imagine that I’m cooler than you are.

Travis Perry
Editor

Well, you almost certainly are cooler, since I have never been cool in any context, not even in the “so nerdy I’m cool context.”

But in interactions between you and I in these comments I at times get the impression you think I represent a certain specific point of view that you know and understand–right-wing, male-dominated(or -ing), typical Evangelical, cisgendered heterosexual, straight laced, simple-minded, etc. But actually, your picture is more than half wrong.

Whereas you, I don’t really know you either, of course. But I suspect I’m a lot closer to understanding you than the other way around.

notleia
Guest
notleia

Yes, I am afraid you are all that.

I’m okay if you’re not, because fewer terrible people in the world is a plus for everyone.

But I find it pretty funny-peculiar that you think you understand me more than I understand you when you have about the same amount of information to work from. I do follow a lot of Millennial stereotype patterns, but I also don’t follow a lot of them.

Travis Perry
Editor

Notleia–it’s a rather interesting conversation we’re having in this public forum. Probably nobody else is reading it, but I’m OK with that.

As to why I think I know you better, it’s because you are quicker to stereotype others than I am from what I have observed (some of the things you perceived as me stereotyping, I would say you were at least partially misunderstanding). Whereas I’m actually paying attention to what you say.

There’s other reasons, too. I’ve known more people over my longer lifetime. Talked to more people–and not just to people who agree with me (second phrase said not because I’m saying that’s what you do, but because I believe that’s what you think is true of me).

Yes, I’m sure you don’t follow all Millennial stereotype patterns. A person who follows ALL stereotypes I would say is a rare flower indeed.

Anyway, nice chatting. Enjoy your sense of being cooler-than-thou (since you have every right to feel that way–that’s at least one thing you are totally right about me–I’m not cool). 🙂

Kathleen Eavenson
Guest
Kathleen Eavenson

One of the most “cheerful” of the doomsday novels is one I read about the time it came out when I was a junior or senior in high school. It is “Alas Babylon” by Pat Frank. Small central Florida town is affected by the war (fought with SAC bombers, etc); in FL alone, McCoy, MacDill, Eglin, Homestead Air Force bases, all Naval air stations & bases, civilian ports and biggest cities, all get nuked. [McCoy is now Orlando’s civilian airport & a number of bases are inactive now but…]
Since I now live in central FL and since the war in the book was started by miscalculations between US Navy jets & Russians over Latakia in SYRIA, I’ve had that dratted book in the back of my mind since 2011 or so, ever since the Syrian civil war exploded.
So, yeah, the various apocalypse scenarios are *not* entertainment, rather they’re unthinkable – but somehow …

Travis Perry
Editor

In some places in the world, say, Syria, or the Congo, conditions that are very much similar to a post-apocalyptic dystopia exist right now. The Apocalypse (of Biblical proportions) does not have to happen for a society to “go to hell in a hand basket.”

I think the United States could very possibly collapse into a nightmare scenario of civil war, murder, disease, and death–with no connection at all to any version of a worldwide apocalypse.

Am I a prepper? No, not by any reasonable definition. But I do keep some minimal survival items around and know how to use them.

I actually think everybody should in fact know at least a few things about basic survival and should have at least a few key items stored at home. Doing so makes the same kind of sense as putting on a seat belt when you drive…

notleia
Guest
notleia

Ha, you’ll notice that virtually no preppers actually want to move to Somalia or thereabouts. You’d think that’d give them a clue that it’s all a giant LARP session, but that would involve self-examination.

Kathleen Eavenson
Guest
Kathleen Eavenson

Living in FL (or anywhere prone to natural disasters, such as this past year’s fires, floods, hurricanes, for example) *should* have all of us thinking about what basic survival stuff we should keep on hand. BUT the real question is how many of us do so??
Harvey, Irma, & Maria should have all of us in the southeast US thinking about prepping (there’s that word again!) for the fast-approaching hurricane season but again, are we? And they aren’t even any version of an apocalypse!
So do “we” really like apocalypses or other disasters or do we just enjoy reading/viewing about them at a remove?

Travis Perry
Editor

It’s kind of like real war. Being at war was not much fun in my experience (though experiences vary), but it is exciting to consume stories where everything is on the line, life or death situations. That’s part of the appeal of an apocalypse. 🙂