Sure, a meteor could leave us vaporized.
Or the sun could supernova us into the Crab Nebula.
But if we descend into the apocalypse mired in plagues, zombies, or nuclear winter?
We’re going to have more than just that trauma.
When was the last time you saw someone driving without one eye suction-cupped to their phone’s screen? 2001?
How on earth are you going to be able to maneuver your car home without the green, yellow, and red lines on the GPS’s interstate? How are you going to call anyone when the only phone number you know is yours?
Within days (and possibly hours) of an apocalypse, it wouldn’t take Einstein to predict that the satellites controlling our precious mobile networks would become as useless as a three day old rat turd. After that, your phone will be good for a flashlight or a camera, and one with an abysmal lifespan.
No maps. No contacts. No Urban Spoon.
And I don’t think there’s an app for surviving an apocalypse. (Someone get on that, stat.)
(And make it work offline.)
We civilized humans are very picky eaters. Most Americans would turn their nose up at haggis, let alone a plate of lye-soaked cod. Mmm, lye.
Lettuce a bit wilty? Chuck it in the bin. Potato got a spot on it? Bin. Cheese with a green patch? Bin. Two day old chicken? Expired orange juice? Bendy carrot? Bin, bin, bin.
This is one arena people in rural, “third world” areas would have a few hundred legs up. Most of the world can only get meat and fish that’s already several days old. What would send you to the can for a ten-hour rant against Montezuma would go down just fine for two-thirds of the world’s population.
Maybe you ought to start building up an immunity to spoiled food.
You can live without food for weeks on end. I had an acquaintance in college who fasted for forty days and nights. He survived on Gatorade and clear broth. He was none too spritely at the end of it, but he was alive.
Water? You’ve got two days. Maybe three. Then you’re dead.
If the world ends in nuclear fashion, our water supplies are pretty much decimated. If it’s disease or zombies, it could buy us some time, but then the water runs the risk of infection. We’re not used to thirst.
We’re not used to that kind of deprivation. Our bodies are pampered and polished, flimsy and flabby. We’re far from the lean lines of our ancestors who had to make their bodies into machines to ward against starvation and parched throats.
Finding clean, sustainable water would be one of the biggest challenges in an apocalypse.
Or your wife? Or your kids? Your best friend? That friendly dude who always treats the office to homemade cupcakes on his birthday?
Most of us like to kid ourselves with the idea that we’d get to choose our location in an apocalypse. Most like that idea better. Most of us don’t want to think we’d be sitting in traffic with our front bumper touching someone else’s tailpipe while the radio plays nothing but that obnoxious Paramore song Misery Business.
Because the world’s ending, and that’s where their programme halted.
Before your stomach starts churning just at that horrendous thought, think of where your family would be. Think of all your loved ones, your children stranded at the child care center, your spouse or significant other on a business trip out of state, your elderly parents in their nursing homes. Your dog or cat panicking at home.
Even the lucky souls who are home with their families when it starts will have people out of reach. And like your ass, you should probably kiss them goodbye.
You know how generally peaceful your world has been for the past seventy years or so? Unless you’re unlucky enough to live in the Balkans, Chechnya, the Middle East, the DRC, or Dick Cheney’s favorite hunting spot, you probably haven’t had to deal with an IED crashing onto your dining room table in the middle of supper.
Or soldiers snatching your children*, or firing squads lining Boy Scouts up on the street**, or watching your wife raped in front of you by your neighbor***.
If you live in North America, it’s been centuries since a real war was fought on our turf. Other nations have borne that yoke in our stead. If you’re ever looking for a blessing to count, start with that one. If you don’t think I’m serious, ask any Pole you encounter about their family’s memories of the Second World War and then make a profuse apology on behalf of America, the UK, and France for failing them so miserably in 1939 and again in 1945.
All that stuff about war? Wars are caused by people competing for scarce resources when they see no other option than to take them by force. If the world ends, you can bet your e. coli-infested ground beef that someone’s going to be eyeing anything you have in your trembling hands.
You might find some people to trust. But very quickly, people will relegate the remnants of humanity to Us and Them. And humans are nothing if not unpredictable.
I would like to think we’ve evolved beyond such nonsense, but there are too many studies and real-life examples of people going Stanford Prison Experiment on one another with little to no justification.
I almost hope it’s fast zombies that do us in. At least then we’d have the option to just join ’em.
*See Libya, DRC, and various other sub-Saharan African countries, specifically under the LRA and offshoot groups.
**This happened in Poland in the Second World War. Yet another charming gift from Nazis.
***Rwanda in 1994.
What would be the scariest things for you in an apocalypse? Beyond the mayhem and the imminent death — what would be the biggest challenges trying to survive?
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