Photo: Digital Sextant
This is the kind of post that has been showing up with disturbing regularity on my Facebook page over the last year or so. In fact, if not for the social medium we all love to hate, I would never have learned how the world is going to end. I would have continued to worry about global warming, mass extinction, resource depletion, overpopulation, economic collapse, nuclear meltdowns, global pandemics, meteorites and earthquakes. But no, the end of the world will be brought to you by the living dead.
That’s what all the savvy kids are saying anyway, and I’ve come to believe them. At first I thought the Zombie Apocalypse was just a fringe meme that would quickly go the way of Rickrolling and LOLCats. Instead, the Zombie Apocalypse has, if you’ll pardon the pun, gone viral. Just ask the Center for Disease Control, who in mid-May posted a clever article entitled “Zombie Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse,” which received enough hits to bring down the site and almost instantly increased CDC’s Twitter following from around 12,000 to 1.2 million. There are other sites and countless blogs devoted to zombie preparedness; there’s a Zombie Apocalypse movie in the works, a band called Zombie Apocalypse, and an Xbox game with the same name.
Clearly, the Zombie Apocalypse is big. The big question is: why?
Here’s my premise, which I invite you to take seriously: the Zombie Apocalypse is big because it’s real. And it’s not going to happen; it’s happening right now.
Sure, it’s easy to chuckle at the high camp of the early zombie films, and at the old-school zombies in particular, who tend to stagger through the night like monkeys on morphine. Indeed many zombie films are openly self-mocking, and even the Zombie Apocalypse is usually presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Despite the fact that zombies have been portrayed as quick and agile in recent years, they remain a titillating but toothless threat.
By contrast, the apocalypse has never looked so threatening, as many of our life support systems—ecological, economic, and social—continue crumbling beneath us.