What do our apocalypse fantasies say about our dreams and ourselves? Similarly to horror, apocalyptic fiction is a genre that investigates fear by taking our fears to the farthest possible extent: in horror, death, violence, and terror; in apocalyptic fiction, the end of the world. Post-apocalyptic fiction is entirely rooted in world building (and world destroying, I guess). It gives us a blank slate to make a new world in which to play out our fears and fantasies together. Our visions of the apocalypse are based in our understanding of the biggest vulnerabilities and challenges facing the security of our societies and communities. Our fantasies represent how we idealize our own individual role within those scenarios. How does the apocalypse scenario you’re drawn to reflect on your identity? Let’s see if I can guess.
There’s two options here. Did you start obsessively reading plague novels during COVID, or did you start before it was cool? If you find yourself in the first category, you need reassurance that we made it through the Spanish Flu. You’re a systems thinker with a closet stocked with way too much toilet paper, and when you get wine-drunk you talk about your crush on Dr. Fauci. You’re the mom friend and an expert on everything because you read a Twitter thread on it. If you’re in the second category, congratulations. You’ve waited years for plague doctor masks to be back in style, and you already knew supply chain shortages would be a thing. You’re terrified by body horror and like to feel like you can think your way out of any situation. You imagine yourself stocking up on rice and beans and fleeing to the countryside. When it comes down to it, you like the idea of having a bit fewer people on the planet, and you wouldn’t mind the time alone.
You want to be the main character in your own action film. You crave the disruption to everyday life, and would rather focus on survival than paying rent. You wear cargo pants and drink your coffee black. You are fundamentally distrustful of other people, especially those different from you. In your apocalypse fantasy, there’s definitely an attractive woman, and maybe a sex scene. You’re an adrenaline junkie. You’re fiercely protective of the people you love, but you know you’d have the guts to kill them if they got bitten. You know that sometimes, violence is the answer.
You are depressed.
You have a pin that says “Question Authority,” but you equally question humanity. You grew up hiding under your school desk, and knew even then that it wouldn’t save you. You work out and yeah, you know how to throw a punch when it comes down to it. You’ve *thought* about your bunker, and are definitely planning on getting around to making it someday. You have a beard and a gun. You don’t go hunting, but you’ve got some property in Minnesota. You’re an independent, and you don’t vote. You think you’re a realist, but you are actually a pessimist. Other people don’t get it. You know you have what it takes.
You hang out around the local coffee shop and are generally regarded as a “chill person.” You’re always down to talk about aliens. Or psychedelics. The government lies to us, you just have to open your mind. You knew a guy once, who saw something. You have stories. You’re a little quiet, but your eyes are deep and wild. At least that’s what your girlfriend told you. You’re not a big fan of people, they’re too wrapped up in mundanity and conformity. You believe in a better world order. When the aliens come you’ll be terrified, of course, but a part of you will feel as if your life is complete.