Saturday, December 22, 2012

The End is Not

It's always possible that the world might end, but (at least so far) it appears that the so-called Mayan doomsday didn't happen.

I'm good with that.

I didn't even want to go on Facebook because I knew the jokes would go on and on and I wouldn't be able to tear my eyes away from the screen.  Even without going on Facebook, some of the fun found me at work in the form of a printout someone made.  

I do feel badly for all the people who were truly afraid.  I heard a rumor that one person in our area was so afraid, he jumped off a bridge to his death rather than witness what would happen.

We're in a weird place in human existence.  We are aware, more than ever, of what is really and truly possible, even likely.  

Ancient predictions of doom had to contend with how to spread the news, but on the other hand, skepticism didn't have as much oomph as it does today.  If an ancient doomsayer claimed that we were about to be smashed by a comet or death planet, he or she didn't have to contend with hundreds of thousands of astronomers and banks of computers analyzing the movements of planets that say meh, not so much.

To turn that around, we're getting a clearer picture of, say, our odds of being obliterated by an asteroid in the near future.  Last I heard, it's 1 to 5500.  That's not too bad, but I'm not comfortable with the non-zero aspect of those odds.

I feel that we're more aware of some scary stuff that could really and actually happen.  What is it that compels people to make up stuff that's really, really unlikely, or impossible, and then get scared about it when there's the real stuff out there?  Not just fun, horror-movie scared, but jump off a bridge kind of scared of something completely made up?  And how many more times will we go through predictions of the planet changing its spin on a dime and invasions of dinosaur-like aliens and the coming of various beings both enlightened and, um, not-so-much ...?

It's a question that's going to follow me around for a while.


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