December 22, 2012: Awkwardness Ensues

I have a genuine fear as the date draws nearer, not because I think that some ancient people predicted the world would end the day before, but because I’m afraid of what people will do. Obviously, the idea is rather ridiculous and most people will laugh it off, but I am sure that many people will seriously consider December 21, 2012 is to be the deadline for lifelong dreams. Which poses serious problems.

I imagine that on December 22, 2012 the record-breaking number of morning-after pills will be sold. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? Because if the world is about to end, how many people are going to have sex? And why bother using a contraceptive if everyone is about to die. It just doesn’t make sense to promote that momentary discomfort when absolutely no consequences are evident. The next day, however, people will realize “Wait a minute! I’m still alive. I need a morning-after pill!” And then they will all rush to the nearest store/gas station where those are sold and find them subsequently sold out.

I’m not sure if I could ever really buy into the Mayan Apocalypse Theory for several reasons. These include personal religious beliefs, doubt, and common sense. But something deeper lingers. This notion that perhaps the Mayans were simply tired of writing their calendar. A calendar has to stop somewhere. If someone saw our calendars int he future, they might scoff that we predicted the end of the world every single year on the exact same date. And they’ll think that we’re highly un-evolved humans who obsess with tragedy. Which is partly true. I imagine the calendar writing went something like this:

“Man, I am quite tired of writing this calendar. I think 2012 seems a very long time away. Perhaps we should stop.”

“You’re right. I’m hungry anyways. I wonder if Arby’s is open this late.”

Just like that, we have created a date for which to set our fears. A date on which several teenagers will have sex. People will kill each other with certain abandon. Rape, genocide. Everything horrible and bad- it will happen. All because the calendar writers got hungry.

Our culture creates our monsters. What we are afraid of, we cultivate. If something like this- this false apocalypse date- did not get so much media attention, no one would be so anxious. The internet, as wonderful an addition to our life it is, can spread chaos in a unique way. Information is power, and the internet is the ultimate highway to share and exploit information. To take a simple fact and implode it. Until a criminal is Satan. Until a date written in stone becomes the imminent end of the world. Because we have given so much hype to the day, people will lash out. Banks will be robbed. Man will seize his day. And the day afterwards, we will feel very awkward, having fueled this theory ourselves. If we embed fear of a date in people, they will fear it. Fear it so that they might do outlandish, wicked things.

Here in America,we don’t need an apocalypse. Fear instead will drive us to our own extinction.

We will languor in the mire of own demise. And also our own awkwardness. Even as we brush off the possibilities and implications of predicating an expiration date for ourselves, we will have to come to terms that we in fact have. The Mayans never predicted that date for our extinction.

We did.

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About Derek Berry

Derek Berry is a novelist and spoken word poet. Derek is the author of Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County (PRA Publishing, 2016). He co-founded and organizes The Unspoken Word, a literary non-profit based out of Charleston, SC, which provides an intendent home for the poetic arts through regular readings, workshops, and community fundraisers. He is on the Executive Board of the Charleston Poetry Festival, the inaugural production of which will be Fall 2017. His work has appeared in The Southern Tablet, Cattywampus, Charleston Currents, Illuminations, RiverSedge, and other journals.He has performed in venues across the United States and Germany. He has worked as a photographer’s assistant, busboy, and bookseller. He currently works at a curation facility for Cold War History.

Posted on June 30, 2011, in Cool Posts, Random. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. You’re probably right about the Mayans just getting tired of writing the calendar and wanting to go out for something to eat! That’s the best explanation I’ve heard yet!

    You’re also spot-on when it comes to us being the masters of our own fate, be it an optimistic one or pessimistic one. Why do so many people love a good doomsday prediciton? Hey, at least more people are learning something about an ancient civilization about which they would otherwise be oblivious!

    Great post, as always!

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