As of late, I'm seeing more apocalyptic thought, often from people I figure were immune to the "world is ending" panics and fads. A lot of this seems to have been brought on by the financial meltdown, but there's usually a bit more science to them; environmental concerns, Peak Oil, and so forth. There's usually some conspiracy theories thrown in here and there, completely ignoring people's ability to be rock stupid without someone nefarious pulling their strings.
I'm not saying there are problems in the world; there are. Now as this blog is about careers and economics, the meltdown of the entire world is relevant to me, as you're going to have trouble programming video games in the future hellscape that some people are predicting.
Here's the problem: I see a lot of posturing but little talk of solutions or, at best, how the person ranting about the fall of mankind is going to survive.
In short, if you think the world is doomed, show me your bunker or shut up. Because otherwise, you're just posturing and whining about the economy, the environment, or whatever.
Pop apocalyptic thought has been part of the American psyche for some time. I can't remember a time in the last eighty years where there wasn't some crisis or another that would be the End Of The World; the depression, world war II, communism, the fall of communism, assorted recessions, the threats of EMPs, the threats of giant meteors, and now of course the idea that 2012 is more than an election year. Waiting for the end is a big American concern.
This doesn't mean that there aren't serious concerns for you and yours. What it means is three things.
First, I honestly think this apocalyptic streak in American thought is both distracting, and frankly, a bit of posing. It's been happening for decades, it's infected our media and culture and language. It's easy to talk about the End Of All We know – and too often I see it done by people convinced the world is ending – who then make no preparations.
If the world is ending and all you're doing is griping while you go about your normal life I'm less likely to believe you. And frankly when you see apocalyptic predictions from someone not making plans that fit their theories, be suspicious that they may not truly believe them – they're just caught up in that good old end-of-the-world mania.
Secondly, whenever I hear end of the world predictions I remember that they've been wrong or overcome. The US didn't collapse into anarchy after the Great Depression, the US won World War II. Humans have done absolutely amazing things over the centuries, at times despite themselves.
My guess is that, barring things like massive asteroid bombardment, gray goo meltdown, or engineered plague, humans will keep ticking a long. We humans like stability and survival, and we often get it right, even if we fix our problems awful late.
Come to think of it, if there are problems that can mean the End Of All We Know, then people should bloody well get active about fixing them. Otherwise it's just whining.
This is why, when I plan my career, the apocalypse isn't part of it. I evaluate ups and downs, dangers, and so on. I go a bit of "logical worst-case scenario" to make sure I cover potential issues in my career plans just in case. Part of my relocation to California was part of that – I may have to face earthquakes, but I have several living options, great connections and travel access, and don't face winter weather. All those are quite helpful in the case of Bad Things (beyond Earthquakes), such as economic meltdowns.
The apocalypse isn't a life plan; in most cases it's the same old same old. So when someone says the end of the world is coming, ask about their bunker.
You'll be surprised.