As mankind was drawing closer to the Millennium, an abundance of doom’s day prophets appeared over night. For the past 20 years or so, the popular media was practically flooded with “clear proof” that the world is heading downhill and that it will end tragically. Despite the fact that the so-called evidence didn’t make sense most of the times and the connections between those facts and Armageddon was rather weak, everyone on this planet had a feeling that something is going to happen soon. Now that the notorious 21st of December 2012 has passed, let’s go over the reasons why this event managed to cause a mass hysteria worldwide.
1. It’s the natural order of things
Perhaps the most logical explanation as to why even the silliest apocalyptic predictions draw our attention is that this is the normal life cycle. In short, everything that lives must also die, sooner or later. True enough, people do not normally make a habit out of thinking about death every day. However, in today’s context comprising of persistent topics presented in the media regarding disasters, accidents, wars, terrorist attacks, shootings, etc. we just can’t avoid hearing about death.
2. It fulfills a basic human need
While some people are perfectly content doing their daily routines, others search for that happiness by trying to find an answer to the universal questions. Even though most of them think they have the solution – and obviously they don’t – the simple fact that they are searching for an answer fulfills a basic human need in this case.
3. Perhaps it helps understand ourselves better
If you watch TV regularly, then you probably noticed that some reporters make a habit out of stating that the tragedy they just presented is a great chance for all of us to examine ourselves better. While many people are tired of hearing this cliché, in reality when being confronted with a catastrophic event people typically start reevaluating their lives and sometimes, figure out how they can improve themselves.
4. It is perceived as a breath of fresh air
Waking up at 7 am to get ready for work, taking the kids to school in a hectic traffic, arriving a few minutes late at the office, having your boss scream at you until the lunch break, dealing with difficult clients, not getting that deal you worked so hard for during the past 2 month…you got the idea. Compared to the hassle some people have to go through every day, an Apocalypse might be just the thing they need to break out of their vicious circle. Besides, without tomorrow, our actions have no real consequences today.
5. Because the [insert holy book here] says so
Truth be told, it is practically impossible to find a religious book that does not debate the end of the world topic or at least analyzes and tries to explain death in depth. Luckily for all the believers out there, these holy books also include sets of instructions on how to behave in order to survive the catastrophe and gain access to eternal life.
6. Some men want to see the world burn
An interesting hypothesis about humankind’s eternal fascination with Armageddon stems from an “ancient catastrophes” writer, Immanuel Velikovsky. To summarize, this guy claims that one of the reasons why the great ancient civilizations didn’t withstand the test of time comes from a natural human reaction of blocking bad memories, while desiring them at the same time. If you think about it, this is a possible explanation as to why some people continue watching shocking news of murders on TV even though they normally cannot stand the sight of blood.
Let’s face it, a very small percentage of professionals these days can honestly admit they really enjoy what they are regularly doing at work. With the rest of the working men being trapped in an endless routine at the office, it is easy to understand why some would like to spice things up by believing in an imminent end. Frankly, diving meteors, running from hordes of zombies and seeing a superhero destroy an army of invading aliens is a more pleasant perspective than being forced to laugh at the same joke your boss makes about Monday mornings.
8. Provides a self of control over the world
If one thing is certain, then it would be the fact that a person cannot predict the time and way of their death. What this means is that people feel and know that they simply have no control over death regardless of how hard they try. Considering that doom’s day predictions usually come with a specific date – sometimes even a precise hour – it provides us with some control over how the world works.
9. We find it hard to accept life has no meaning
What the meaning of life is and why we are here constitute just two of the eternal questions humankind has been seeking an answer to ever since the dawn of time. While philosophers and some scientists have provided their answers, nothing seems to satisfy us considering that any reply is usually perceived as relative and subjective. However, most of the time the inability to accept a response stems from the fact that people want to bestow life a noble, grandiose meaning. Since life cannot exist without death, the Apocalypse comes as an element that brings balance between order and chaos.
10. Our over-inflated ego
In all honesty, people have a hard time grasping and accepting the fact that we are just tiny parts in this enormous universe. This is one of the reasons why during the Middle Ages scientists found it difficult, not to mention that some paid with their lives, to convince the world and especially the Catholic Church that the Earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa. Even though nobody contests this fact nowadays, the feeling of self-importance is still acting strong. How else would you explain that so many people actually believe the end of the world is going to occur during their lifetime?