The End of the World As We Don't Know It

Fire Twirl Matt Palmer

So, the end of the world is postponed yet again. And given that it was never going to happen (not this weekend, at least), it makes you wonder why everybody was talking about it in the first place.

As it is probably well-known by now, May 21st was predicted to be the beginning of the End of the World. First thing to note is that apparently the world doesn't come to an end overnight (or on a Saturday afternoon). This kind of makes sense, considering that it took between seven days and a few gazillion years - depending on which sources you believe - to get into its current shape. So you would think that disassembly of the world is also a lengthy operation.

More interestingly, though, is why everybody knew about it. Apparently an American Conservative (sic!) radio broadcaster named Harold Camping had worked out that this would be the day, but funnily enough, I wouldn't have thought that most people my age would give an awful lot about his ramblings. Nonetheless, everybody's Facebook status was somehow referring to the 'Rapture' (or the lack thereof). The Huffington Post had a live-ticker for 'rapture capture', and even the BBC was reporting the complete non-event as news. So somehow, a misguided prediction of the end of the world turned into a viral sensation with everybody and their dogs knowing about it.

Clearly, given that Camping had already predicted the end of the world once before (in 1994), again without much success, his track record was never going in his favour. But then again, if you are right with a prediction like this, your track record stops right there and then. Some of his followers had spent considerable amounts of money to advertise the coming end of the world, and are now feeling ripped off that it turned out to be waste of money. Which makes them feel quite similar to West Ham season ticket holders, although for them, the world as they know it has come to an end.

For all the others, after we have tidied up the mess of the rapture parties (which frankly we never expected we would have to clean up), it leaves us with an empty feeling of: what comes next? We have to go back to work, and can't rely on our office to have disappeared into thin air. We still have to deal with our bosses whose souls have not been taken to hell by the horseriders of the apocalypse.

Even worse, if for once we listened to an intelligent person, Sir Isaac Newton predicted that the rapture won't happen earlier than 2060. At least that gives us another 50 years of getting our own souls in order, and making sure that next time we are better prepared. And by that, I don't just mean that the beer is chilled.

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