I stepped out of my room earlier today, and I noticed something unusual. My room is directly across from one of the main entrances into my dorm, which is the largest one on my campus with around 13,000 undergrads. Ordinarily, this hall is filled with the sounds of tipsy underclassmen stumbling toward their own rooms, people playing pool down the hall, and dozens of other such noises. Today, it was different. Today, I couldn’t hear anything. It felt like I was the last person alive in the entire building, just like it does every year as finals draw closer.
Still, it got me thinking; I started considering all the various ways the world has come to an end in fiction. If this were really it, and all my hallmates had either perished or fled, how would I want it all to come to a close?
I think I could rule out any kind of war, be it nuclear, vs robots or aliens, or otherwise. The constant conflict would drag out our extinction entirely too long, and dying in a bomb blast or some similar event would take me too much by surprise to get closure. I’m the kind of person who absolutely refuses to challenge the status quo when it comes to my relationships with people, and I feel like I’d be too busy holding out hope for my own survival to spend any time doing something more personally productive- telling people how I really feel about them, settling any outstanding issues in my life, et cetera.
The same goes for a zombie apocalypse. Everyone thinks they’ve seen enough zombie movies to survive, but I doubt people’d really be equipped to handle something that bizarre. I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near the most likely to survive, but even then it seems pretty clear that I’m going to have to deal with fighting off the reanimated corpses of friends and loved ones before eventually joining them. Even if I somehow ended up surviving for a long time, after some point, continuing to survive would seem pointless if the undead have overrun the rest of the world.
Anyway, my point is that if the world’s going to end in, say, two weeks, and I couldn’t stop it, only choose how it happened, I’d pick an asteroid impact.
First of all, going out like the dinosaurs would be kind of awesome.
Beyond that, I feel like the problem I have with most of these doomsday scenarios is that they give people way too long to hold out hope before they inevitably perish. In this scenario, I at least would be sure I wasn’t going to make it out alive. Even if humanity did manage to save some part of ourselves somehow, I know there’s no way I’d make it onto the Space Ark or whatever.
There’s a lot of reasons for this. First of all, I really don’t stand out that much from most of humanity. I’m decently smart, not hideously deformed (if a bit too pudgy), and I have several useful skills. But if the human race is trying to send their best and brightest into space to continue the species, I’m not on that list.
I’d like to think I’m in the top 50% of our species in terms of intelligence. On a good day, I might like to think I fit into the top 25%. but with seven billion people on Earth, even trying to take just the most survival-ready 1% is still a logistically-impossible seven hundred million. Add to this my physical traits, along with the fact that I’m not exactly inclined toward continuing the species, and I’m on the ground staring at the rocket as it blasts away from Earth.
Still, being left behind as our time counts down to extinction, I’d hopefully be able to gain some measure of inner peace. As I mentioned above, I tend to vigorously uphold the status quo in my personal relationships. I’ve got some kind of mental block that keeps me from telling people how I really feel if there’s even the slightest chance of it making them uncomfortable. I’d rather just stay friends than tell someone I feel something more and risk losing what I’ve already got.
Hopefully, with the extra motivation of my impending demise, I’d take that last opportunity to really be open with people. I’d like to think I would be able to own up to my past failings, apologize to people I’ve hurt, and let those I love know just how much I do. As the end drew closer, I’d hope that would lead to my facing death with a clearer conscience.