Maggie A's Meanderings

 
 

 

 

 Dec 17, 2012

The Next Doomsday -
This Friday, The Mayan Apocalypse Prophecy


I think I was still in elementary school when my older brother who enjoyed trying to scare me (as I guess most brothers do when it comes to their younger siblings) came to my room one night and told me about the end of the world: how the ancient Mayans had predicted exactly, to the day, when the world was going to end. Where he got the information from, I don't know. I'd guess from In Search of or some such TV show. But the end of the world was going to be in December 2012. That was when the Mayan calendar ended. Just mysteriously ended. Because the world was going to end.

My reaction to this scary news?

"They had to stop chiseling sometime."

Then I lay down in bed, and as I was drifting off to sleep I thought, "Really, how far in advance were these guys suppose to keep  chiseling?" At the time I had no idea when the ancient Mayans lived. I was figuring a time back when the Egyptian pyramids were being built. So I lay there picturing some step pyramid with vines growing all over it and deep in its dark, humid interior, lit by torchlight, clad in loincloth was some poor slave carving wall calendar after wall calendar into the stone until he had calendars going thousands of years in the future. Then the poor guy either runs out of room or just gets fed up with the task and tosses down his chisel.

I didn't hear anything more about the Mayan
apocalypse prophecy from my brother. In fact, it was decades before I again heard about the Mayan end of the world prediction. When I did, people were acting like it was something had just been discovered. And when I did hear about it, my reaction in the last few years was basically my reaction I had as a kid. Calendars don't go forever. They have to stop sometime. (Computerized perpetual calendars a little ahead of the Mayan level of technology.)

I don't know what it is with humans, some humans, and doomsdays.

If you're not a kid, you'll remember the fuss, even panic, over Y2K and the doomsday and world economic crash that was supposed to happen all because computers worldwide were going to think it was Monday instead of Saturday. (Monday, January 1, 1900 rather than Saturday, January 1, 2000 because many computer programs at the time only allowed 2 spaces for the year.) I didn't know what world these people were living in, but in the world I lived in computers messed up all the time and things are just fixed when it happens. What I thought was for most computer programs it wouldn't even matter what day of the week it was. Why would my spreadsheet program or word processing document care what day of the week it was? What would it matter to a plane's flight computer if it were Saturday instead of Monday.
(Reportedly some people refused to fly on New Year's Eve 1999 because they were afraid the plane would malfunction because of Y2K.) Even traffic signals that had different programs for weekend versus weekday traffic where day of the week did matter wouldn't cause anything worse than some traffic delays. Planes weren't going to fall from the skies. Banks would fix any discrepancies to interest charges. So people would mention Y2K and all the chaos that would ensue and I'd just think, "This is going to be my generation's 'War of the Worlds' moment." Just like later generations laughed when we heard the stories of panic that the radio broadcast of 'War of the Worlds' caused, later generations are going to laugh when they hear how we panicked about Y2K. And I'd just have to tell them, "Some people panicked. Some people panicked. Not everyone." Just like only some people panicked when listening to the 'War of the Worlds' broadcast.

Seems like every few years someone, somewhere is predicting doomsday. This alignment. That asteroid. This arbitrary day on a man-made calendar. These signs. The last doomsday prediction was just last year. Anyone remember it? The world was supposed to have ended on October 21, 2011 --- the prediction of  Harold Camping based on his deep study of the Bible. (This was after he'd previously predicted the world was going to end in May last year based on the same Bible.) The world didn't end. But Camping made millions from donations from his followers who believed him.

The world's not going to end this Friday, December 21, 2012. But I'm sure a lot of money's been made off this doomsday too. News, TV shows, even a major Hollywood movie --- media corporations working the doomsday to make bucks. Then there's all the money made by the doomsday prep companies.

Doomsdays may not be good sense, but they are good business. Which is why when this Friday passes and the world is still around, someone, somewhere will come up with another doomsday. And there will always be some people who buy it.



Mayan calendar cartoon


For more of my no nonsense look at subjects people get overly worked up about, read "The (Not So) Great Zombie Apocalypse" or take a look through the
Archive.

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