They Were So Excited
Civilization ended. Survivalists soon wept.
It was nothing like the movies and books.
We, in general as humans, like to imagine how amazingly we’d react to hypothetical situation X. The zombie apocalypse, invasion of hostile aliens or fellow humans, mass plague, being mugged or robbed, war, poverty, fear, pain, and so forth.
Sometimes, yes, we react pretty well. Especially if we’ve been trained in some way to deal with situation X. But we don’t like failing and we don’t like thinking we’d do badly regardless. It’s a type of optimism, and despite my frequent cynicism I’m not immune any more than the next guy.
I think my own culture, that of the United States, is especially prone to “I’d be awesome” thinking. We’d all be blowing off zombie heads like a master marksman in the zombie apocalypse. Of course *we* would never hesitate to blow away our zombie loved ones like that poor sucker in the movie who couldn’t do it in time and got bit. I enjoyed reading a couple of Eric Flint’s 1632 series, but I had to stop because everything was just a bit too easy — well, gee whiz, we’ve been cut off from the modern world and dropped into the past. Time to grab those bootstraps and get the power plant working again, it’ll be simple. And while we’re at it we’ll go sailing all around the world too because modern people stripped of the technology we’re used to are still better than any damn past person. We’d do so much better because… because…
There’s no real reason except an optimistic belief in being better. People with money explain how much better they’d handle poverty than millions of poor people, because millions of poor people must be poor because they’re lazy. People whose kids have grown up and left home explain how easy it is for young people to hold off having kids until they’re making six figures. People who inherit wealth tell us how easy it is to be self-made. People who have never been in danger in their lives talk about how easily they’d overcome PTSD or anxiety or phobia, and how much better a job they’d do at going to war than the people who have actually been in those wars.
A lot of people simply do not consider that things that are difficult or deadly or both are difficult and/or deadly. A lot of people, including as far as I can tell a hell of a lot of our politicians, are pretty sure that life is some kind of movie or television series, and hardship is an exciting adventure to overcome.
Well, I don’t think so. I think the zombie apocalypse or whatever would suck, and I’d probably die despite my best efforts.
But in defense of stories, I have enjoyed reading about zombie apocalypses. I’ve enjoyed movies about them. Writing about one could be fun — and I have written about the start of one. I may actually write one, one day. You never know.
Just, you know… let’s remember the fiction is fiction. Being inspired is fine, forgetting that the battles we all fight, figurative or literal, are real, they can be difficult, people lose and fail and take time to overcome when they overcome at all, and it’s worth having some empathy for others. We easily recognize hardship in our own lives, remember to recognize others’ hardships as well. Don’t dismiss them.