By Dr Who
They tell me the world is ending. Apparently a bunch of half naked people without access to metal weapons predicted ages ago that it is all going to be over… tomorrow. So why all the hype about something propagated by a people who thought the Spaniards were, quite literally, gods? Why all the Facebook statuses, cartoons and discussions about something that everyone knows is not going to happen? Well, it's because we want it to. Here's why.
The Old Romance
There is an inevitable association of apocalypse with romanticism, fed to us through countless movies, music, books and comics. Alien attack? No problem, I'll be Will Smith giving the peace sign as I nuke the Mothership (Independence Day). Zombies taking over? Hell yes, because now I can drive that Dodge Challenger down a traffic free road (Walking Dead). Incoming meteor? I'll just be Evel Knievel in space and come back to hook up with Liv Tyler (Armageddon).
It's all heroism and courage and blood thumping adrenaline with some extremely attractive lead actors and actresses. Not once do you stop and consider that you might end up as the zombie. Well, it appears that the reason behind this is that people are inherently optimists and we love ourselves some heroes. Studies have shown that people who willingly endure pain are more likable in a group, proving once again that science takes millenniums to discover something that humans know since primary school.
But the point is we like to think we are likable; we like to think we'd jump in front of a bullet for someone. That's called ego satisfaction, a knowledge that we are righteous, which adds extra importance to ourselves. All of this combined, makes us want to be - and think we will be - heroes.
The path of the dead
The end of the world would be a big shocker, not just because of the billions of dead people, but for you, dear reader, it is probably the end of the line. All the things you take for granted is going away. Pressure like that generally makes people more daring, more spontaneous. That guy/girl you like that you haven't asked out yet? Better do it now, because there might not be a tomorrow.
This is a very common phenomenon among soldiers and sailors.
It also explains our endless fascination with the apocalypse. Our previous generations, whether Christian, Hindu or Muslim, kept an eye out for signs of Judgement Day. The newer generations are more heavily focused on robots and zombies. Because nothing highlights our mortality or promotes living in the moment like the possibility of getting brutally, horribly burned to ashes any goddamned day.
Is this world worth it?
I mentioned previous generations being all doom and gloom and the fact that we are more so. Look at all the probable reasons of global collapse that we have lined up. But there's more to it. We love to hear bad news.
Neuroscientists have suggested that our hunter-gatherer brains developed in such a way that we looked out for bad news, so that we could address that for survival. And we haven't gotten any better at it. The prospect of bad things is more important to us than the possibility of a good thing. There is also a sort of feedback loop that is associated with our previously mentioned ego satisfaction. We think the world is getting worse. And when we hear that the apocalypse is coming, a tiny part of our brain punches the air, because, whaddaya know, he finally got it right. And like bad news, there's no shortage of apocalypse predictions, so it's a never-ending loop.
In essence, all that negativity in your life is there because of your stupid brain. Our tip, be a zombie. Also, might as well take advantage of the hype and ask out that crush already.