Good Things About the End of the World

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If you’re reading this, that means the world hasn’t ended. The apocalypse didn’t happen. Even though the blood moon on July 27th was supposed to herald doomsday, the world is still trucking along. Everything is still here. Like every prediction of the apocalypse before it, it was wrong. In fact, the world was predicted to end on April 23rd of this year too. But it didn’t.

It’s very disappointing.

When I was a kid, I wanted the world to end. I used to think about the end of the world on a daily basis. I wasn’t suicidal. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t really want the world to end either. What I wanted was to fight zombies or alien invaders. I wanted to drive a cool heavily-armored sports car across a radioactive wasteland. I wanted to experience the thrill that only the end of the world could provide.

I’m not a weirdo. I’m not only person who has fantasized about the end of the world. In fact, it’s a pretty common practice across a variety of human cultures going back millennia. Entire religions are based around the idea of the apocalypse. Even today, prepping for doomsday is a lucrative industry. There’s an entire real estate market for fortified bunkers and retail outlets that exclusively stock survival gear. Besides the countless post-apocalyptic movies that have been made, preparing for the collapse of civilization is also a wildly popular reality TV genre. Some might call doomsday prepping a bona fide human tradition.

However you feel about it, I’m here to tell you that there are good things about the end of the world.

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It provides certainty in a future that might otherwise be unknowable. And the unknown can be much more frightening than an end of the world that is known and foretold. You can prepare for the apocalypse. And even if you do die, at least you can know exactly when that will happen. As unpleasant as death can be, the end of world will ensure that a lot of other people are going to die at the same time as you, so you won’t be alone. You’ll have company.

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That is, when and how the world is going to end. Maybe you know of a hidden planet on an unknown orbit or you’ve discovered a message encoded in ancient texts that gives you the exact date and time of our planet’s demise. Either way, only the chosen few — and those who choose to believe — are privy to this secret knowledge.

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Who cares about that upcoming bill or going to work or studying for that test if a giant rock from outer space is going to destroy the entire planet? War, inequality, environmental destruction and climate change — you don’t have to worry about those things either. There’s no point in trying to fix any large scale societal problems if the world is just going to end anyway. The apocalypse frees us from any obligations, protects us from the consequences of our actions, and releases us from all responsibility, large and small. What we really want isn’t the end of the world, but an end to our problems — of our worries.

It never ends. The world is still here. It keeps on spinning. Like a roller coaster or a scary movie, you can experience the thrill and anticipation of the apocalypse but never have to really deal with the unpleasant reality of it.

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So when I was a kid, dreaming of zombie plagues and nuclear annihilation, I could always count on the fact that the end wasn’t near. But for a brief time, the apocalypse could feel near — if only in my imagination. Like all predictions of the end of the world throughout history and all to come, the apocalypse will always end harmlessly before it even begins.

So as long as there are still people on planet Earth, there will always be an end of the world to look forward to.

That’s another good thing about the end of the world — we always get another shot at it.

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