Post Apocalyptic MELTDOWN! (Or, "If the shit hits the fan, you're dead!")

I really dig the shit out of Post Apocalyptic fiction. It doesn't matter what medium either, comics, movies, books. Doesn't matter, I love it all.

I am always stoked on the newest "after the world ends" video game. I watch the Mad Max movies at least once a year and I still watch them with the zeal that I had for them as a kid.

There is something so fucking frightening about the idea of civilization collapsing on itself, something frightening and somewhat liberating. I don't know what the combination of those two feelings does to me, but it's really awesome.

So, the other day I took a break from thinking about space and started thinking about what I would do in the case of an extinction level event happening and I being one of the "lucky" ones to survive. Question being; what would I do in this new liberated future?

The answer is, die. Just like the rest of you.

If you don't think that's the case, you are a fucking idiot. Unless you are an Army Ranger or avid survivalist, odds are you'd last about ten seconds in an "End of the World" type of scenario. I have decided today to do the world yet ANOTHER service and give my dear readers an idea of what to expect when shit finally jumps off.

In the following I will do my best to address your inadequacies, your lack of survival skills and eventually your demise. VARNUNG!  This one might get a bit, uhm, how shall I say? "Visceral".

First, let us establish the parameters of our little disaster scenario. I am talking of a strict ELE type of thing here, like less than 10% of the world's population is still around. No electricity, no fuel (aside from scavenged) and certainly no communications equipment. I am talking fucking dire.

With that laid out for us, let's begin:

1.) You don't know how to make a fire.

Oh fuck off! I can hear what you're thinking already; "Whatever Bill, I can totally start a fire. I accidentally do it in the work ashtray all the time.","How hard could it be?".

It's incredibly hard you moron! Starting a fire requires a lot of ingenuity when you don't have a lighter. Now, some of you may be thinking about flint at this point and good for you for getting that far. Flint would be a nice option, but how many of you have flint in your house? One, maybe two? You'd have a better chance scavenging for Bics with a little fuel left.

Let's say, by some miracle, you have a flint or a fire-stone in your possession. Well fucking great! Now you'll be exhausted and cold!

Even with a fire starting kit, it still takes a ton of work and lots of effort to get one going. Check out this douchebag Montana resident (only guessing there!) spend ten fucking minutes starting a fire using full on fire-starting equipment.

And that dude is a survivalist! He spends his free time trying to figure this shit out and it still takes a fucking meal's worth of energy for him to get that little pussy-fart of a fire going. Now, most of my readership is in the Northwest and Northeast of the country. Think about this. Really think about it. How often does it rain where you live? Now add that to the fact that building a fire takes a lot of work and really think about your odds of doing it consistently and without breaking any of the tools. Like I said before, you're fucked!

Ok, the dude above might not be the best example. So here are two girls from Survivor (yes, my favorite show) who are sent in to a duel where they compete to start a fire. First one to start their fire and have it burn for a few SECONDS gets the win. Now before you watch this, keep in mind that these girls have been on an island "surviving" for 38 days at this point. They are on a "set" on the island, there is no wind and they are sheltered by the fake rocks behind them. (action starts about 1 minute in)

Do you see what I'm saying? Fire starting is hard. Really hard.

But don't worry! You'll probably be to busy getting raped and eventually cannibalized by savages to know that you're cold. Which brings me to my next topic:

2.) You can't protect yourself.

Sorry to say, but you can't do shit to defend yourself! I don't care if you know Karate, if you have a fucking handgun, it doesn't matter! There is nothing that YOU can do to protect yourself after the world tries to shrug Humanity off like so much dandruff.

Have you ever thought about what you'd do if someone broke in to your home? If you're like me, you probably answered "yes". Now my answer is always, "Well, I'd shoot the shit out of them.", which sounds great in theory. In practical application though, well, that's another matter entirely.

I have been around guns my entire life, I am comfortable with guns and have discharged them on many occasions. Hell, I like guns. They're fun and they make a really loud noise (which is kind of my only prerequisite for any good time activity). I have shot at targets and animals, both of which lack one key feature of the overall equation.

They can't shoot back.

Truth is, shooting at a target is easy. You just look down the barrel, line up the sight and gently squeeze (not pull) the trigger. See, super easy. Well, not quite. For example:

Straight up, that's YOU with a gun if you've never shot one before or very rarely. Shooting guns isn't like it is on TV or Movies. You don't just point it in a direction and everything happens for you. It takes control to shoot a gun, let alone hit a target accurately.

Now I was trying to sound like a tough-guy, but that's far from the truth. When it comes down to it in our little post-apocalyptic scenario, I'd fall prey to same thing all of us would. I've never killed someone. I have never shot at another Human, nor have I shot anything that was aggressively running towards me.

So let's say that you're out scavenging for food one lonesome day (since you can't build a fire you have to find any canned goods you're able to) and you come across a lock-box with a gun in it. Great! Now you're armed. We'll assume that you found the necessary ammunition for it and it works as well. So you've loaded up your pistol (or rifle, really whatever imaginary gun you want, go for it!) and you take off on your merry way.

Then, up ahead on the trail, you see a figure nestled in between some trees. He's bent over shuffling through a box, most likely doing the exact same thing you are. He hasn't seen you yet, so here's your chance! You can level your gun at him right now and take his head off before he even knew what happened. Go ahead! C'mon!

You pussy! You totally could have shot him dead without so much as a "Hello!". You were too morally opposed to it though, just like any other sane person would be. Instead you decide to move a little closer and try to see what he's up to. Who knows? He might have some food that he'd be willing to share. Or perhaps some knowledge of any upcoming dangers on the trail. So you start off towards him slowly, your loaded gun still in hand.

You start getting fairly close to him, about 10 meters. He's still digging around in what looks like box of cans, but it's too hard to tell from where you are. He hasn't seemed to notice you yet, but you can see from the look of him that he's been around the block. His clothes are tattered and it appears that he's wearing some kind of logo t-shirt, but you're just a little too far away to make it out.

Suddenly, he jerks back. He turns on his heels in an awkward fashion and looks directly at you. That's when you notice that he's holding a pistol. You think of something to say to him, but you keep staring at the pistol, thinking about the loaded gun in your hand. You decide to "break the ice" by throwing up your hands and telling him you're not going to hurt him.


He fucking shot you! Shot you dead, from ten meters away. Didn't say a goddamned word to you.

You know why that is? Because that guy had been there before and knew that if he didn't shoot you dead right there you'd either do it to him, or become another mouth to feed. Another mouth to feed is something no one in our scenario could afford to deal with.

My point being, you have to be a hard motherfucker to just shoot someone in cold blood. In the milliseconds it takes you to formulate a thought it all could be over. All it requires is one asshole who is really motivated to survive. Or an asshole that's just a better shot than you. Either way, you're fucked.

3.) You're not a doctor.

Come the fuck on! You know this one already! Even if you were a boyscout or worked search and rescue, you're not a fucking doctor. Why is this important you ask? Because of this:

WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? No seriously, what are you looking at there? I mean, I couldn't tell you. The only reason that I know is because I was the one who found the picture. I will seriously give $1 to any person that emails a correct response.

You know why I'll make that wager? Because you're not a fucking doctor and you have no idea what that is. From that picture you could misdiagnose a million conditions because there are too many things that have a similar symptoms for you to nail it down from one out of context image. That's what doctors do though! They look at random information and upon that make a diagnosis hoping that it's the correct one.

Let's continue to get hypothetical for a moment and say that you are out on the trail in our Post Apocalyptic playground. You found a can of beans and some meth, so you're super happy and just chugging along. You set yourself a nice pace and start covering ground rapidly. You're admiring the trees and the silence of it all when you trip over a half-buried rock. OH SHIT! You fall in to a ditch and feel the worst pain you have ever felt directly in the lower half of your right arm.What is it? A bad sprain? A break? You don't know, because you're not a fucking doctor!

Let us assume that you can tell, from the pain, that it's a break. What's the first thing you do? Splint? Make-shift cast? I mean, do any of us know how to make a cast that would actually immobilize a bone? Maybe, but it's doubtful. Even if you could create a make-shift cast, how do we keep the limb from getting gangrenous? How would we know if the cast was too tight?

See what I'm saying? There are too many variables in any medical situation for us to make due with a half-assed solution. That's not say that these scenarios are completely unsurvivable, but the odds of you fucking it up are a lot higher than the odds of you getting it right on the first whack.

So hypothetical bone fractures aside, what about disease?

There are tons of diseases that we don't often encounter that could easily kill you without proper medical treatment. On top of that, there are common infections that could kill you just from lack of shelter and food. The Flu used to kill thousands and thousands of people a year and guess what? It still does.

In 2010 alone 2,117 people died from the flu in the United States. Keep in mind that is WITH medical treatment. So imagine you get the flu in our little Wasteland and are sleeping in a damp wooded area. Remember the last time you got the flu? How your comfy house felt like a personally crafted hell? Now try and transpose those feelings to a fucking cave or other unpleasant place you could find yourself in our wasteland. You're starving, you're cold and you can't move because of the aches. The flu has become really "real" for you as you lay in the cold and wish, truly wish, that you were able to get some Thera-flu.

Don't worry though, it'll all be over soon. Since, let's face it, you're not a fucking doctor.

4.) There is no Facebook.

You read that right! In our hypothetical future it's safe to assume that all communications technology has ceased to function. With that said, how would a social creature like a Human deal with the intense isolation of our new planet?

Short answer, we wouldn't.

Let's really put this in perspective. Here are some stats directly from Facebook:

  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
Now think about that! 500 million active users, an average of about 250 million users a day. In our scenario that's several times more than the population of the Earth!

Now what happens with all those people's delicate psyches when they don't constantly have other people to comment on their lives? What if you went from a community of millions at your fingertips to almost complete isolation? Even a small scale regional Nuclear attack would result in the loss of MILLIONS of lives, leaving just small pockets of civilization at best.

"A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December 2006 asserted that even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more. In a regional nuclear conflict scenario in which two opposing nations in the subtropics each used 50 Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons (ca. 15 kiloton each) on major populated centers, the researchers estimated fatalities from 2.6 million to 16.7 million per country. Also, as much as five million tons of soot would be released, which would produce a cooling of several degrees over large areas of North America and Eurasia, including most of the grain-growing regions. The cooling would last for years and could be "catastrophic" according to the researchers."

Now when you read that above paragraph and REALLY digest the numbers, it's a bit overwhelming.Millions of people gone in a few short days is a tough idea to deal with. Also, keep in mind that the above mentioned information only relates to ONE possible scenario. Super-volcanoes, asteroid/meteoroid collisions and severe climate change could have potentially tens of millions of more causalities than an all out nuclear war.

Every service in the world would shut down, no police, no cell phones, no internet. There might be a military still functioning but we would most likely not know as they would be too busy trying to figure out who was in charge and why.

This is a pretty startling prospect, the loss of all communications technology that is. Our world has grown considerably smaller over the last few decades, begging the question, "Can we live without the entire world being at the touch of a button?". I'd like to think so, but I highly doubt it.

For example; when I wake up I usually grab my phone and check my email. At some point in the two or so hours that follow I'll check in on my Facebook and Twitter. In that time I have made contact with at least 500 people. 30 years ago that simply wasn't possible.

With all of the people who are now present in my life, would I be able to cope mentally with the fact that there would be no one to give a shit? Now you know me, there's no doubt I would go fucking insane within like 2 days.

Here's a quote from James House that you may find interesting:

"The magnitude of risk associated with social isolation is comparable with that of cigarette smoking and other major biomedical and psychosocial risk factors. However, our understanding of how and why social isolation is risky for health—or conversely—how and why social ties and relationships are protective of health, still remains quite limited."

So, even some of the smartest people on the planet know isolation is bad, but don't know why. Since we already established that you aren't a doctor, odds are you'd be at a loss too. Some of you more introspective types might be thinking "Fuck that. I'd be fine. I HATE being around people.". Well good for you, but you're wrong.

"First is the idea that isolation from others is anxiety-arousing or stressful in and of itself, producing physiological arousal and changes, which if prolonged, can produce serious morbidity or mortality; and, conversely that affiliation or contact with others reduces or modulates physiological arousal, both in general and in the presence of stress and other threats to health. A growing body of evidence from experimental studies of animals and humans is consistent with this hypothesis."

I don't care how much of a hard-ass you are, given a few weeks without interacting with another person and you are going to go a bit nuts.

So if we add it up at this juncture; you are a freezing, diseased, helpless and possibly insane mess. Point being, Mad Max makes it look cool, but the truth is just COLD. Very, very cold.

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