I’ve been on a real kick of post-apocalyptic content lately. I’ve been watching movies, playing video games and reading books and theories that depict or, in some cases, predict what life after the inevitable apocalypse will look like. So what I’ve done here in this article is make my own list of theories of what humanity will be like after the apocalypse using various popular media.
Now when it comes to the end of civilization as we know it, some people are, what I like to call, houses of cards. This means that they are only barley hanging on and like a house of cards, it only takes one little push or gust of wind for it all to come tumbling down. These are the people who are willing to abandon contemporary society instantly and the second things go wrong or “the event” happens they have already embraced the apocalypse. This is where you get the Mad Max style motorcycle gangs and the people who participate in The Purge. These are people who jump from normal, functioning adults with lives and jobs to roving gangs who wander the countryside raping and killing people just 15 minutes after the end of the world.
A real life example of a house of cards incident is the Danziger Bridge shooting in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. In the incident, four off-duty police officers shot and killed two people and wounded four others for simply no reason. However, I think these cops were classic houses of cards, they looked the apocalypse (the hurricane) right in the eye and they embraced it. It took them just six days of living in a devastated wasteland to snap and form a Mad Max murder crew.
The next group of survivors are what I like to call the hopeful. These are usually the central theme of any post-apocalyptic movie or story. The hopeful are those who wander around looking for something better across the decimated landscape. Think of Viggo Mortensen’s character in The Road and Eli in The Book of Eli, they are each traveling to the coast in search of better weather and a place to try and restart society. Other examples are the Stalker in the classic Soviet film Stalker, the Woody Harrelson/Jesse Eisenberg/Emma Stone bunch from Zombieland and Jim from 28 Days Later. These examples are the kinds of hopeful that are desperately searching for a community or even a remnant of the life that existed before the apocalypse.
Before we get to the full blown end of the world, sometimes there can be a transition period where you can see it coming but are either in denial or just haven’t teetered all the way to the edge yet. This group I like to call the hangers on. This is like Great Britain in Children of Men, a society that is rapidly crumbling but is also just barely able to hang on to what little shred of humanity they have left. Another is the community in A Clockwork Orange, where a society is descending into madness but some people (like the therapist that medicates Alex) are doing everything possible to prevent the next step into anarchy.
Finally, you have the settlers. These are people that have experienced the apocalypse but have managed to rebuild and recreate society for better or worse. An example of this is the warring factions in the popular, Russian novel Metro 2033. In Metro, society has more or less recreated itself in the tunnels and stations of the Moscow Metro system but the people inside quickly fall into war and factionalism as they battle over religion, resources and ideology just like humans did before the apocalypse. Another example are the people in the cities in the Fallout series of video games where people attempt to resume normal life but are constantly threatened by the outside world.
Now that we’ve established what the people will be like after the apocalypse, it’s time to ask yourself which category will you fall into?