Does anyone else get the nagging feeling we are living in somewhat apocalyptic times? Now, I’m agnostic which means I’m not convinced that the world will end with the fiery drama so memorably portrayed in the book of revelations.
That said, I won’t be too shocked if I spot the four horsemen of the apocalypse charging across the sky one afternoon. A gigantic six-headed beast won’t be entirely surprising either-It will be in keeping with the times of doom and gloom.
The most obvious manifestation of the end-of-times feel we are currently undergoing is the swine flu. There are few things as media-friendly as a potential worldwide pandemic, and we got weeks of breathless reports about the potential demise of mankind.
Even SARS a few years ago didn’t receive as much attention as this rogue virus and there was plenty of ‘we are all doomed’ feeling before things eventually died down.
Not surprisingly, the media was quick to condemn all the scare-mongering about the virus conveniently overlooking the fact that they were the prime architects in causing the panic in the first place.
It turns out humanity is safe for now until the next mutating virus heralds Armageddon once again. Meanwhile, geopolitical affairs are hardly reassuring to the kind of cynics who are contemplating planning permission for building an underground bunker.
Rogue states like North Korea are well on the way to getting a nuclear bomb and Pakistan- a nuclear power- is showing signs of becoming a failed state in the long run to the delight of the likes of Al Qaeda..
Infact, 21st century conflict can best be embodied by the quest of such terrorist groups to get their hands on nuclear weapons.
There is a sense that wars between states is now something of a relic, and future conflict is likely to be embodied by the struggle against religious and other strains of fundamentalism. It would seem we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to global terrorism.
And that’s before we even start talking about the economic crisis. The credit crunch was a sort of economic mini-Armageddon, complete with doomsday scenarios.
Hardly anyone knows exactly what happened-and indeed, is still happening- but we do know it’s pretty bad. Economies are crashing, jobs are disappearing and orthodoxies are being reassessed all over the world.
We are in unchartered waters here, and we are hoping the same people who got us into this mess can drag us out. Let’s not forget the potential natural disasters while we are at it. Scientists have been beating the drum about climate change for so long that we have become almost immune to how bad things are going to get if their models are correct.
Meanwhile every other week, there’s another story about another asteroid having a close shave with Earth and a myriad of other possible natural disasters just waiting to happen like solar flares which were in the news recently. It’s hard to shake the feeling that the Universe isn’t too pleased about our presence.
In addition, the prevalence of technology has created a sense of ennui. There is a kind of growing distrust and disillusionment with the speed and breadth of technological advancement. Where will it all stop?
For example, here in the UK, there is an extensive debate about how much information the government can collect about you and how much surveillance is permissible and appropriate.
21st century technology now means virtually every aspect of your life is in the public domain to a certain extent. And there are also wider questions about the implications of technology.
Is the internet making us more artificial and pulling us apart from each other? Are we too dependent on it? Is it accelerating the moral decline of society? Is the concept of privacy over?
I don’t want to get everyone thinking such morbid thoughts on a sunny Friday afternoon, but if you have read this far it’s obviously a bit too late for that.
I do find it fascinating how so much doom and gloom arises in a time when historically, we’ve never been better off as a species.
Of course it doesn’t help that we have events like a global economic crisis and a potentially deadly flu mutation occurring at roughly the same time.
It helps to set the narrative in place and keeps us in a perpetual state of worry. I wish I could close on a more positive note, but I have an underground bunker to build…