What if we lived in a post-apocalyptic world? Media suggests, that most of us would be fucked. Whether it’s a result of a nuclear holocaust, global and drastic climate change or a zombie outbreak, most post-apocalyptic worlds look the same. Desolate places, not necessarily full of sand, with abandoned cities, ruined buildings and wanders of the old world reduced to rubble. All survivors have been forced to roam the wastes, scavenge, constantly on the run, while many have gone insane. Now, I don’t have much problem with the visions portrayed in films, TV shows and games. However, I do think that fall of mankind would look somewhat different, than what we are lead to expect.
Vision of the future.
Let us go through the process of going from pre to post-apocalyptia. In all versions I know, by which I mean those mainstream i.e. “Mad Max”, “Walking Dead” or “Fallout” etc., it’s always unexpected. It might be sudden with no warning or gradual with some early signs, which are usually ignored. We see news reports of some strange attacks and aggressive behaviour. Your friend or hot neighbour comes to your house, telling you how some creepy guy just bit them. Then, BAM! they throw themselves at you and try to eat your face. You run outside to find hordes of the dead eating the living.
That part actually makes sense. How many of you watch the news or treat them seriously? There could be nuclear missiles, launched from somewhere (<cough> Russia <cough>), on their way to turn UK’s largest city to the site of Fallout: New London. Chances are you would have no idea until it actually happened. The catastrophic event would be followed by widespread panic and total chaos, as everyone would attempt to flee the cities and so on.
What happens next is what truly matters. The government tries to maintain or restore order. This results either, in its total collapse or turn into a fascist/totalitarian regime. The survivors band together, to create nomadic groups, which pretty much are beings dicks to everyone else and sometimes to themselves. The alternative is to become a lone wanderer-badass (that’s the official title) Mad Max style. It also has to be pointed out that a sizeable portion of the surviving population turn out to be psychopathic killers and rapists.
Man’s inhumanity to man.
According to movies and other media, once catastrophe strikes, it is a matter of time before most of us start fighting over the last Twinkie .
Evidence suggests, that in a desperate situation we are able to do terrible things to survive. Steal food from a defenceless, elderly couple. Turn to cannibalism, even eating our own children, when there’s no food. Shoot a fat man in a leg, to use him as bait for the pursuing zombie horde, so we can get away.
Limited resources are the number one cause of conflict in the world. Those people have something we need to survive, let’s kill them and take their stuff, it’s that simple. Survival instinct overrides morality, compassion and human decency.
People are good after all.
Here’s what I think about that. After the period of chaos and panic, people would not turn into a bunch of nut cases and start eating each other (in a non-zombie way). Despite what you think, humans are a lot more cooperative and altruistic than the movies show us. It is a part of our nature. I don’t dispute that there, will be a lot of people, who would exploit the situation and start robbing and just being douchebags. But the truth is, groups, which work with others, share resources and help each other are more successful. After all, that’s how civilization started; smaller groups banded into bigger and go on to create tribes and nations.
At this point you might say: hold on, that’s what happens in Mad Max and Fallout. That’s true, but those tribes are still savage, closer to barbarians of old than modern man. We are no longer those people, we are more rational and reasonable. Even without a central government enforcing order and law, we would not go to our neighbours to steal their food and supplies. We would create our own, new structure, new government. The society might revert to its pre-industrial revolution state, with small settlements inhabited by farming communities, but no rampaging barbarians, no warlords…
Ok, some warlords.
I choose to believe that most humans are inherently good. We are capable of committing terrible atrocities, but we are also compassionate and helpful. There are however some limitations to that. We can be extremely altruistic and ready to sacrifice for those we know, love and hold dear, our family and friends; but completely indifferent to the suffering of those we don’t know or associate with. That’s why most of us don’t give money to a homeless guy sleeping on a bench in a park. However, while we wouldn’t help him, we wouldn’t beat him to death and steal his last fag either.
I guess that makes for a boring post-apocalyptic world, but that’s what I believe.