As you already know, Japan was struck by a 8.8 earthquake today—the fifth-strongest on record in the world. In terms of a natural disaster, this one took the cake by incurring serious damage as well as triggering a giant tsunami that has hit the coast of Hawaii and is reported to strike in Northern California.
I was alerted of the news when I woke up this morning via a text message from my best friend in San Francisco that simply read, “If anything happens with this tsunami, I love you like the brother I never had, and I’m so grateful to have you as one of my best friends.” My stomach dropped, and I rushed to my computer to find out what she was actually talking about. Although I was shocked and saddened to hear of the news, my fears were abated when I read that the waves weren’t expected to be nearly as high in Northern California. I almost wanted to text back my friend, “Drama queen. You practically gave me a heart attack,” but then I realized I would’ve probably done the same thing. Because an earthquake in Japan could mean the end of the world, right?
Growing up, there was always this palpable fear of some natural disaster happening/invasion of aliens that would signal the end of days. Maybe it’s because I grew up watching movies like The Day After Tomorrow and films similar to that are still getting made today (Battle: Los Angeles anyone?) We’ve been taught to fear both the unknown and Mother Nature. So when something catastrophic occurs, my friends and I (and many others, I’m sure) can’t help but wonder if this is it.
Earlier this year, a massive amount of birds fell out of the sky and died with no logical explanation. Around the same time, a large amount of fish perished. Fish and birds: XOXO, Life. What does it all mean? Are we going to die tomorrow? This could be the end for real. This doesn’t make any sense. THIS IS SOME SCARY SHIT.
As a culture, we’re obsessed with our own demise, which I find to be very interesting since we don’t actually know how to deal with basic run-of-the-mill death. Being wiped out by an astroid or tsunami is much more bearable than knowing someone who choked on a piece of chicken at dinner and died. Maybe it’s because it’s easier to know that we’re all going to go out together than alone.
When I was 17, my boyfriend at the time once woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me that he didn’t feel safe. He had a strong premonition of something terrible happening to the Earth, and believed we were all going to perish or something. It’s easy to write that off as stoner paranoia, but having “bad feelings” about the state of the Earth is something a lot of people experience, especially in California. It’s because it’s the land of energies, chakras, and crystals. New Age spirituality hovers over everyone there, and people can be particularly sensitive to anything they deem to be a “shift in the Earth’s vibe.”
New Age flakiness aside though, it’s pretty obvious that we’ve all been pretty much fucked by pop culture. Hollywood loves a good doomsday scenario. Hell, they recently made a big blockbuster movie starring John Cusack called 2012, which was based on one terrifying Mayan prophecy. Knowing why we’re all paranoid freaks doesn’t make it easier to figure out why these messages are there to begin with though. Understanding why we would spend $13.000 in New York to see a movie about the city getting blown up is sort of fascinating, no?
I worry about it all becoming a sick self-fulfilling prophecy. We’ll think it, we’ll believe it, and, voila, instant Armageddon. So cut it out right now, you guys! Let’s cease any and all discussion of the world coming to an end. Because the Earth might hear us gossiping behind its back one day and just be like, “Fine. You want this? You got it!”