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Thread: How will you live your life in the face of imminent catastrophe?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    How will you live your life in the face of imminent catastrophe?

    It doesn't matter why. It could be any one or a mixture of the myriad proposed scenarios for global instability caused by the environment, the economy, warfare, aliens, or whatever.

    But, lets assume you've been living under a rock and were just told by a prophet that things will reach a breaking point by 2030, the world will enter a state of prolonged turmoil, and 80% of the current world population will be wiped out by 2100 and that most of the remaining 20% will be living in extreme poverty and trying to kill each other on a daily basis.

    How does this change how you'll be living your life right now?

    Do things like sticking with a company because of their pension plan make less sense? You might not make it to retirement age. The company is likely to not even exist by then. Your currency may end up being worthless.

    Would you still be looking to marry and raise a family? What if you have kids, and while they're still young things go wrong, jobs start disappearing, people start migrating, violence increases, and there's no social stability whatsoever outside of a few enclaves that you can't access?

    What of what you're doing right now would all of a sudden seem like a meaningless or hopeless waste of time? For instance, would it be advisable to pursue a life as an artist? Art will always be around as long as humans are, but the current art world will be non-existent - galleries and museums disappearing, works being lost or destroyed, institutional employment drying up, a changing commercial landscape, not to mention trends and practices and "what it takes" to make it being drastically different... Lots of things.

    Maybe I'm slowly evolving into some kind of tinfoil hat wearing survivalist who's going to shack up in a cabin in New Mexico or Colorado or whatever to mail fart bombs to art professors, but whatever. I think these are serious questions that people should be asking themselves, yet I see very few people doing it. Most people seem to be banking on how things are now rather than how they might be even in the near term future.

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    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    I assume my life is perpetually on the verge of catastrophe. So having a known one would just give a specific target to suppress anxiety about. The only real change for me (other than more palpable fear) would be that I'd be slightly more on guard about the behavior of others who were suddenly aware of their imminent doom. For some people, that information is going to be a game changer. It isn't that people will suddenly start exploiting and cheating each other, it's that some will become more brazen about it because they won't be trying to avoid social sanctions anymore. Their hearts already leaned that way, so in a sense, they'll be more honest about their intent to screw over those around them.

    For me, it is because I think that mortality creates that state already. You just don't know if it will be a natural disaster, illness, injury, or the carelessness/antipathy of a creature that does you in. I can't see through to expecting to live out the next decade at any given moment. Life is just too fragile and death is sufficiently common that it seems overly optimistic to assume any one person is going to be the one with the longer life expectancy.

    But even if I believed that I was going to live to be 100--years flicker by so quickly, that still feels imminent. The only uncertainty is what will off me, not that I will die.

    As for the threat of possible societal collapse--well, I honestly don't ever think that any particular plan or approach to securing long term security is worth the effort because I've always believed such things to be fragile to the point that investing in them is just going to leave you blindsided. I'm unwilling to do it, because I believe it's all much more likely to fall apart than hang together for the long term.

    I don't bank on present conditions, I just try to enjoy them as much as possible. I don't bank on anything because banking on anything in this context is to make the same sort of mistake in a different shade.

    I think the proper way to live life is under the assumption that everything is on the brink at all times. Get comfortable with it, and when it happens you don't have to alter much at all, and that might give you an edge to get a day more than you would otherwise. At the very least, you won't be caught short when your investments turn out to be wasted sacrifice.
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Senseye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notdavidlynch View Post
    I think these are serious questions that people should be asking themselves, yet I see very few people doing it. Most people seem to be banking on how things are now rather than how they might be even in the near term future.
    I am not advocating short sightedness, but the future is hard to predict. So you more or less have to extrapolate now into the future. There is no reason to predict a doom and gloom scenario, nor the dawning of a new utopia. Reality will likely fall somewhere in between.

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    My lifestyle is already fairly adapted to that scenario. I don't have a career, I don't have family (I mean, not my own family), no property, and no significant accumulation of wealth. But honestly, for me, "imminent catastrophe" is more likely to be a personal thing. If I get sick with some debilitating and expensive disease and can't afford to pay medical bills, I'm fucked, unless I wanted to drag my family into a debt they couldn't afford either. Without a safety net of property, wealth, or a welfare state, life itself is an imminent catastrophe. I think this is why environmental catastrophe or global warfare is mostly just an anxiety of people with money, or students. It would possibly mean facing existential threats of having all your safety nets removed and being forced to live in a day-to-day struggle, a very difficult life, and a greatly increased chance of an early death. Half the world already lives like that.

  5. #5
    Senior Member skip's Avatar
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    Continued prayer and increasing self-reliance, which is what I do now anyway.
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that a problem.

  6. #6
    Merry Christmas Blorg's Avatar
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    I would probably read more symbolism/deep meaning into things, and try to make the things I do more meaningful too. Not meaningful in the functional sense-- I doubt that I would become a more productive/useful citizen (I would probably get lazier in this scenario, in certain ways).

    I remember reading something, I think it was either by Tolstoy or Dostoevsky (some Russian), about a guy who was about to be executed. He had a moment to spare so instead of just waiting to die, he bothered to tie his shoelaces.

    I guess that sums up how I would live in the face of catastrophe. I might pay more attention to things I currently neglect (appearances, details, roses we're supposed to smell), and stop worrying about a lot of things that I currently pay attention to (most notably, the future).

  7. #7
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notdavidlynch View Post
    ... lets assume you've been ... told by a prophet that things will reach a breaking point by 2030, the world will enter a state of prolonged turmoil, and 80% of the current world population will be wiped out by 2100 and that most of the remaining 20% will be living in extreme poverty and trying to kill each other on a daily basis.
    I more or less already (for my own personal reasons) believe that the world is circling the bowl as it is, and will reach "catastrophic" meltdown in the next 10-20 years, at best. Or reach the breaking point, as such.

    How does this change how you'll be living your life right now?
    It doesn't. I'm already living life with a rather pessimistic long-term view of humanity's future, within my own lifetime.

    Do things like sticking with a company because of their pension plan make less sense? You might not make it to retirement age. The company is likely to not even exist by then. Your currency may end up being worthless.
    I already don't give a damn for things like retirement accounts (401ks, etc), as by provided by my employer or otherwise. I've again and again opted out of all such things as offered by employers. I expect nothing from them, as such, other than a paycheck, paycheck-to-paycheck as I continue working there.

    Why? I could go on at some length here, but the theme is: I see the whole long-term economic picture of things as corrupt and unsustainable... from any perspective you want to take it.

    Would you still be looking to marry and raise a family? What if you have kids, and while they're still young things go wrong, jobs start disappearing, people start migrating, violence increases, and there's no social stability whatsoever outside of a few enclaves that you can't access?
    I've never had and I still don't have any desire to raise a family. Among the many reasons (apart from my general lack of desire) why I think that's a bad idea, though, is my general dim outlook on the world's future ... to the point that I almost, just almost, find it odiously irresponsible for when other people bring children into this shitstorm-to-come (nevermind the shitstorm as it is).

    What of what you're doing right now would all of a sudden seem like a meaningless or hopeless waste of time? For instance, would it be advisable to pursue a life as an artist? Art will always be around as long as humans are, but the current art world will be non-existent - galleries and museums disappearing, works being lost or destroyed, institutional employment drying up, a changing commercial landscape, not to mention trends and practices and "what it takes" to make it being drastically different... Lots of things.
    Meaning doesn't stem from what will be for whomever else. Meaning stems from what is, for me, right now. And a bit into the short-to-mid-term future, as such.

    Maybe I'm slowly evolving into some kind of tinfoil hat wearing survivalist who's going to shack up in a cabin in New Mexico or Colorado or whatever to mail fart bombs to art professors, but whatever. I think these are serious questions that people should be asking themselves, yet I see very few people doing it. Most people seem to be banking on how things are now rather than how they might be even in the near term future.
    As I see it, I just keep living life with maximum comfort and efficacy such as I can, day to day, week to week (indeed: my general approach to living doesn't concretely forecast my own "plans" or outlook much farther than that anyhow). Just because the world is going to end doesn't mean I have to stop having the life I want to have, necessarily. Up to a point, anyhow.

    Once it reaches the breaking point: then it's game on. Kill or be killed.

    As such, I've entertained the purchase of certain weapons and taking training in their use. But, really, that's living for a future that may or may not come any time soon... when, instead, I could just live the life I like now.

    Overall: from any prospect that the world is doomed does not follow that what remains of it now is without meaning, as applies to a human life living through it all.

    That's how I see it.

  8. #8
    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    I've given a lot of thought to this scenario. It's actually one of the biggest reasons I feel a need to get fit. If hard times come, I want to be ready to compete for resources and survive - I don't want to be a health care consumer in a world without health care.

    I think Children of Men presents a reasonable model for how impending doom affects people. Most of the troublemakers burn themselves out pretty quickly, and whoever survives that tries their best to muddle through. Everyone becomes generally paranoid and distrusting, but aren't they already? The government abandons any pretense of civil liberty and does whatever it deems necessary to avoid massive catastrophe/disorder. But the government isn't able to control rural areas as well as urban areas, which leads to more of a dichotomy between totalitarianism in the city, and anarchy in the country.

    I think the best strategy in that scenario is to have a strong, well fortified home, in a semi-rural area, have unregistered weapons for defense, and be prepared to self-sustain for a while. Avoid urban areas, since the competition for resources will be stronger there. Using the tech/tools you have, and enough land/nature, survival in an anarchic environment should be possible, hopefully long enough for society to gradually reintegrate.
    We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.

  9. #9
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    Catastrophes are rare, but they can happen. OTOH, I've found that things are rarely as good as you hope and rarely as bad as you fear. One approach that has worked for some people is the Stoic philosophy. It's a good way to build courage, strength, and independence. A good introduction to this is: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine. Or, you can read the original Roman stoics: Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and/or Marcus Aurelius.

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    I don't think I'd do things that differently. All of the things listed in the OP could happen anyway, so theoretically we should all be making preparations for the possibility as best we can. I don't see how planning for any of those things will mitigate the effects, especially as the particular effects are still unforeseen, so I basically do nothing to prepare for the apocalypse. As far as I'm concerned, let the chips fall where they may. Maybe I'll live, maybe I'll die, but I'll enjoy whatever time I have left a lot more if I just live the way I want to live.

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