The End Of The World As We Know It

There’s apocalypse in the air…again (and I don’t mean that Twitter is down again although by some people’s reactions you’d think it was on par with such an Earth shattering event).

World events whether terrorism, threats of catastrophic climate change, cost of living, perceived increases in world disasters and the threat of crime combine to convince a lot of people that ‘the end is nigh’.
Oddly you see less people walking up an down with that warning written on a billboard (Do the modern equivalents just have web sites now?) but increasingly it seems to be more common to come across people who seem to be convinced that a crunch point is coming.No Internet!
It would almost seem that we are talking ourselves into a premature event horizon. And this observation from a natural pessimist or maybe I tend to err on the side of realism at least. I do sometimes wonder how ready any of us are for a radical change to our routine.
The Ties That Bind Us

These days the unavailability of a microblogging site, the wrong type of leaves on a railway line, a light dusting of snow that brings traffic to a standstill ( a peculiar British phenomena) all conspire to show how easily our little ‘developed’ worlds can be disrupted. How would we all cope if power cuts, a severe petrol shortage or extreme weather conditions were visited upon a large number of us? Would we all rally round together or quickly descend into ‘every man for himself’? And if our usual methods of communication were suddenly gone with no Internet or mobile telephone would we easily adapt or just keep furiously trying to connect to the Internet and send text messages on our phones, stuck in our developed world habits?

Power Cuts
When I was very young (‘ere we go) we lived through a series of regular but random power cuts and often sat in the dark lit only by candles whilst eating a tea cooked a portable camping gas stove. My Dad exchanged his car for a motorbike to get to work as there was a fuel shortage and within a few short years the rubbish piled high in the streets uncollected and the dead remained unburied as Britain wrestled with strikes and industrial unrest.Of course that’s easier to cope with when you’re quite young. It all seems a bit exciting (excluding the later unburied dead obviously but hey a tanker drivers strike got us sent home from school as there was no oil delivered for the heating system) and anyway Mum and Dad will look after you. It must have felt a lot different for my parents.
I grew up through a protracted period of the cold war in which a lot of us assumed that at some point most of us would get vapourised by the dropping of an atom bomb or two very shortly and local government, the history papers tell us, make ludicrous planning arrangements and planned for such an eventuality , even planning a contingency for securing tea stocks for the survivors “Aaw, suffering from the effects of fallout. never mind eh, have a nice lovely cup of tea”.

A Nice Cuppa Will Make It Alright

On the other hand at least they planned for it, however ludicrous the assumption that such a nuclear aftermath could partly be rebuilt by an allocation of tea. Most of us no longer keep a few candles in the draw in case of power cuts (I think we have a wind up torch radio somewhere) and few of us probably have a reserve gas cooker or stock of food and water just in case the worst happens. We assume that everything that is at our fingertips will always continue to be there in one form or another.

Photo by Noll under this creative commons license

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One thought on “The End Of The World As We Know It

  1. I think people would adapt remarkably quickly. Obviously there would probably be a brief flurry of the “every man for himself” and trying to get back to exactly how things were before, but people are survivors and tend to be stoical when faced when major events, particularly when they can see everyone else is in the same boat and that it is not going to go away and they just have to get on and deal with it. It is the little things that trip us up – like Twitter going down.

    I often ponder the degree to which I am addicted to technology. But when I go away from home or if someone comes to visit, and I know I cannot use it, I only miss it for a day or two and then I wonder why I used it so much. Of course I soon get back into it again.

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