The Uncoolness of DOOM
Off the keyboard of the Old Horseman
Published on Old Horseman on January 3,2011
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
It seems that a general sense of impending doom is going mainstream in recent years. It’s getting harder and harder for many people to fully ignore the the signs and pretend that a return to conventional prosperity is just around the next bend… In fact, a growing fraction of the population is becoming well-aware of the fact that there will be no real “recovery”, and that Business As Usual is gone for good.
Perhaps as a coping mechanism, the bulk of these doomers envision a “cool” kind of doom. Usually imagining one extreme or the other in future scenarios.
The light side of Cool Doom is a vision of some kind of Great Depression v2.0. Sure, gas and food will get expensive. The economy will continue to collapse. But those who think ahead, plant backyard Victory Gardens and invest in high MPG automobiles will be okay. Especially if they “re-localize”, support farmers markets, and think in terms of “building community”.
The dark side of Cool Doom is the hardcore, post-apocalyptic vision of the future. Hiding in bunkers from radioactive fallout. Fighting off mutant zombies and jackbooted stormtroopers. Just like in a Sci-Fi fantasy or video game.
The handy thing about both versions of Cool Doom is that they relieve the doomer of the need to make any REAL changes in his or her lifestyle.
The light side Cool Doom means you take up gardening as a hobby and get a hybrid instead of a big SUV. Maybe you actually talk to some of your suburban neighbors or “near-by” family about emergency plans, and stock some dry goods and bottled water. No big deal, really.
The dark side of Cool Doom means that you take up shooting and gun collecting as a hobby. Maybe stock a Bug-Out Bag, or even remake your basement into a bunker. The kind of stuff that’ll let you make a kick-ass last stand long enough to see those who laughed at your doomerism get munched by zombies before you go out in a blaze of glory yourself!
Almost nobody likes to think about the more likely scenario: Uncool Doom… No hippie-dippy kumbaya neosuburbia… No mushroom clouds or Mad Max… Just an irregular, but increasingly steep decline. Fuel getting more and more expensive, then less and less available until driving at all becomes problematic. At the same time employment opportunities dry-up, meaning you’ll need to drive even farther to find decent work. With so much competition for ever-fewer jobs, pay will be miserably low, while goods and services, which will be in shrinking supply, cost more and more inflation-devalued dollars. Knowing they can’t afford high bills, people will cut-back on their household power usage, only to have the utility companies compensate for below-expected demand/income by raising rates and cutting staff and upkeep on the already decrepit power grid.
The problem with this relatively boring, Uncool Doom is that you actually have to make real, sweeping changes in your life to prepare for it.
The private automobile is most obviously doomed. You need to plan for a future without one, which probably means moving to a city where public transportation is available, a reasonably self-contained small town where everything you need in within walking or bicycling distance, or out to a self-sufficient farmstead from which you won’t need to venture often and which can produce fuel for transportation when it is necessary. The auto-dependent suburbs will continue to fail, and faux-doomsteads (auto-dependent suburban households out in the sticks) will fail even faster.
The fiat “dollar” economy is disintegrating, and paper wealth of all kinds is going with it. The whole system of people being employed in make-work occupations to be paid in dollars which they can then trade for everything they need is hopelessly inefficient and cannot long endure. Already jobs are being phased-out in favor of people relying more directly on Government for a growing number of the things they need. This means that you either need to reconcile yourself to being a ward of the state (giving the Government ever-increasing control over your life), or you have to become independent of the Government and its currency system.
Widespread GovCo infrastructure and goods distribution is a reflection of the now-deceased growth economy. It won’t take an EMP from a nuclear attack to kill much of the power grid. It’ll only take the cost of supporting so many miles of power cables to supply a decreasing and increasingly moneyless population of customers. It won’t take zombie attacks to shut-down the rural supermarkets. It’ll just take increasing operation costs and spiraling prices nobody can afford. The time will come when, even if you have a mattress full of Federal Reserve Notes, there won’t be anything available to buy with them outside of the major cities.
The probable form of doom is uncool because you CAN prepare for it. But this preparation means doing uncool things like moving out of suburbia and away from “normal” life. Largely disconnecting from the people and groups you know are doomed, even if they are family. And planning for a vision of the future most people absolutely refuse to see.
This is how most people will perceive you. Cool Doom can really be a cop-out. Light-side Cool Doomers imagine that not that much needs to be done, and can blame future failure on the lack of social enlightenment in society. Dark-side Cool Doomers can imagine that nothing they could do would be effective against the living Hell of the future anyway, so why bother?
But let’s face it. History tends to be uncool in real-time.