There are a variety of predictors that this, the year 2012, will manifest the End of Times. The peculiar fascination appears in books, magazines, television programs and movies all. It shows up so much that I tend to think of it as whistling past the graveyard. I wonder if there is a part of people that believes that while the end of the world is a pretty old concept that so far looks like it hasn’t happened, many may believe it in the back of their minds somehow. There are many indicators of the thinking, mostly taking the form of people saying how things have gone to hell in a handbasket.
Person #1: “Hello, George! What brings you downtown?”
Person #2: “We’re all going to die, I tell you!”
It’s an idea that seems to pop out quite abruptly. I logged into Google+ and saw the words of my eldest adult son in the stream saying: “No rapture so far. In your face Universe!” Of course, it was just after 2am on January 1st when he said it, and if it had been verbal he would have slurred the words. Here in Spokane, the city that thinks like a small rural town in the Ozarks with little to zero contact with modern society, as the New Year ushered in I heard a single firework and the barely audible and monotonic word “yay” issued right behind it. Then silence. It was like the hope and excitement of the new year was replaced with a tentative surprise that we’re all still here. As though the predictions of doom would manifest as soon as the clock stopped striking twelve. I wondered at the relative silence where previous years there was a cacophony of fireworks and people beating big spoons on large pans and kettles, the hoots and hollering echoing off the hills that form the valley we’re in. I imagined that they were all in their homes, cringing and drunk and thinking “In your face, Universe!”
But I also thought that perhaps the economic situation and the battle of man versus corporation might have sapped the will of the country. The last hurrah issued just before an online peek showed the devastation of Christmas on their credit card balance. It’s difficult to go to war when the majority of the population keeps giving its every dime to the enemy. “We are the 99%” referring to their interest rate. The fascination of the End of Days actually more like wishful thinking than the usual subject of ridicule.
I have to wonder if the suicide rate will rise as dramatically as the number of places advertising is popping up all around us. Sometimes when I open a kitchen cupboard I expect to be assailed with promotional fear mongering that there just aren’t enough items on the shelves and how I should do something about that –right now. (And if I do, I will get two for one if I just pay an extra shipping and handling fee that’s greater than the cost of the products.) I can’t help but notice a “let’s just get this over with” attitude on the rise.
Even the enemy, the vast corporations, seem to have a get-it-while-we-can attitude, going so far as to charge people for the privilege of paying their bills. It’s as though the forecast is partly cloudy with a chance of lunacy. Then again, I live in a community where the police announced that they would no longer investigate property crimes like burglary. “After all, we have tickets to write that bring in extra city revenues and it’s not like anyone is getting hurt.” One can almost hear the trailing snort.
There are some small islands of hope out there. Viewers can revel in the knowledge that Portlandia is returning to the Independent Film Channel on television. A commercial just told me this and I will become thrilled to death about it just as soon as I know what the hell they’re talking about. However, I just got a flyer that tells me I can have all of the hits from the 1950s for a mere twenty-four ninety five. I guess they fail to grasp that in spite of my qualifications for AARP membership that I am too young to swing to the beat of Tommy Dorsey and Bing Crosby. Their actual target market might actually buy something if they could remember the offer from the flyer to the telephone –which was shut off anyway for lack of payment. The corporations suffering a memory lapse themselves by failing to recall that most old people are on Medicare. For the moment. To wit, they have no disposable income.
It IS depressing, yes? One might easily see why the mood is so subdued and that people are greeting doom for the planet as just another of the billions of threats they are apprised of daily. According to reality shows, even being a librarian is a very dangerous job in which death is a commonplace risk. I wonder what employees of OSHA think when they get home after work and turn on the TV and see how much they have failed in their efforts to protect us. So far as I can tell, every occupation requires exquisite skill that leaves the employed on the precipice of catastrophe. Then again, I have yet to see a program that speaks to the dangers of OSHA employment. Anyway, doom and destruction don’t appear to be the attention getters they once were and so I fail even more to understand what the fixation with the aforementioned doom is all about.
Perhaps you have noticed a strange lack of focus in this article. I admit that I’m ramling somewhat, finding it difficult to identify the point that I’m trying to make. I know it has something to do with the lack of enthusiasm I’m seeing in so many circles; a strange lack of course being set. People aren’t running around yelling Woe Is Me The Sky Is Falling, it’s more like a general malaise that contains a Bring It On sentiment. But then again it doesn’t really matter whether I make any sense, after all, we’re all going to die.