4 Embarrassing Ways Most People Would Die in an Apocalypse
Not so long ago, Cracked addressed some of the major issues your average Hollywood apocalypse overlooks, and one of the big ones was the frailty of our current society. If the world collapses, millions of people are going to die, and not at the hands of zombie armies or alien overlords, but from lack of antibiotics, insulin, dialysis, and basic healthcare. Our entire existence is a house of cards right now, and if some chucklefucker from the 5th dimension beams in and zaps out the bottom layer, we're going to be screwed in so many more ways than you ever dreamed of when Skynet tried to nuke everyone so that the world could be a peaceful graveyard full of Schwarzeneggers that stand around and look menacing, or whatever it is that Skynet's endgame was.
See, you're not going to live to be killed by an advanced T-1000. That's utterly preposterous. And no one will even have time to zombify, probably. You've got a whole mess of other issues to look out for that are probably going to kill you and yours before anyone can even declare the apocalypse official.
I couldn't find definitive stats for deaths per year on the toilet. People are probably overdosing and having strokes and heart attacks on the crapper all the time, but the official cause of death rarely includes the location, so who's to know? What I do know is that, when the world ends, the shitter will be your tomb.
Very few apocalypses (henceforth apocalii) result in a peaceful and pastoral sort of setting wherein you just have a lot more time alone to enjoy nature. Most result in madness, chaos, and studded leather. Plus facial hair that never gets to a length ladies find gross.
"Those with spotty growth were the first to be eaten."
Odds are that most of your future diet in the apocalypse is going to be pretty rancid. If you recall, Mad Max was sharing old dog food with his cattle dog. You're going to have maybe a week or two of bliss with cans of soup and Entemann's, and then the shit is hitting the fan. The fresh food will all be spoiled, the good cans will all be gone, and you'll be trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle of running in a mad panic from zombies and robots while full of raw ramen noodles and walnut paste.
That hot dysentery is going to be so steamy and uncomfortable. And eventually it's going to come right in the middle of a running-for-your-life session, and no matter how fast you think you can run while expelling expired butter chicken sauce and pickled egg shits down your thighs, it's not going to be fast enough.
They're called the runs for a goddamn reason.
Modern man is simply not equipped -- physically, mentally, intestinally -- to be throttled back in time to an age when people ate whatever shit they found on the ground that wasn't trying to eat them. Your soft innards expect freeze-dried flakes of potato that can be reconstituted with butter and water, not the leather uppers of old shoes and discarded coffee grounds. No, the apocalypse won't need to spend a lot of effort in those first few months at all.
Complete Lack of Skills
So what are you good at? I like to think I'm a well-rounded guy. I can do some basic plumbing and electronics, change a car tire, build things from wood (with appropriate tools), cook, identify a number of edible plants, fish, track animals to a fair degree, do your taxes for you, masturbate no matter how tired I am, and drink until I forget all those things for a period of 3-12 hours. If the world ended Sunday, I'd probably be done in by Friday.
"He died doing the two things he did best: jacking it."
Our world today exists to teach you a thing. We actually strive to perfect, or at least satisfactorily master, one thing. You are a baker. A mechanic. Fleshlight model. Whatever. That is your thing that you contribute. And in a world of seven billion, that's awesome, because we all fit in a hole, especially those fleshlight people.
In a post-apocalyptic world, the fact you can bake a bumbleberry pie is so useless that you should be shot on principle. You need awesome skills in the post apocalypse. But you don't have them. Everyone in Walking Dead is awesome at everything, or they die when they get too much screen time as a reminder to others to stop being useless. Remember Beth? She was so useless until she learned some new skills, which served only to remind the audience that nothing lasts forever in the cold zombie rain. And so she was expunged. This sort of carries over to a real-life situation, only instead of surviving for several seasons in the background, Beth would have just died right away due to a lack of ability to contribute much of anything. That's not even Beth's fault; most people have no productive skills.
"I have the ability to be carded for alcohol for until I'm 45; can that be of assistance?"
As time passes in the post-apocalyptic world, those devoid of skill are going to desperately need to latch onto those who have them, or simply wither and die like shitty grapes on the vine when they can't find or prepare food, can't make shelter, can't protect themselves, or can't master the trapeze, assuming it's some kind of trapeze-based apocalypse. And let's be honest, most of us aren't good marksmen -- how many of us have ever even shot a gun or a bow and arrow? Most of us don't have street fighting skills, or robot smashing skills, or the ability to outrun nuclear fallout. At the very least, you should learn guitar, about 100 good jokes, and a few simple but tasty recipes for canned food, so you can seem like an indispensable cog in the future machine while you still can.
Ever notice how every single apocalyptic movie is rife with fire, but it's always these little ones? Little shitbird fires, like in cars on the side of the road or smoldering in the distance. Everything at the end of the world is perfect for roasting marshmallows and wienies.
This is how the world ends; not with a bang, but with s'mores.
In real life, fire spreads like the supple, cold-cream-smeared thighs of every yo mama that ever got yo mama joked. In 1906, nearly 500 blocks in San Francisco were leveled by fire. Chicago's epic fire burned for three days, and it was considered a slow one. The Great New Orleans Fire burned nearly the entire city to the ground in about five hours, all thanks to that shitheel Tom Cruise. In a world in which firefighters have better things to do, like running for their lives in a panic, the actual devastation wrought by fires would probably level every city big enough to have a Waffle House by week's end. So if you're in the market for shelter, supplies, or not suffering third-degree burns, you may be disappointed by how the apocalypse turns out.
Now, you may be thinking, "Sure, but what if no fires start in the first place?" and to that a hearty guffaw is tossed your way. In a panic, the first thing humans do is light fires.
"Smokey says: The end is nigh! Only YOU can make an offering to the fire lord, Azretroph!"
I don't know why, but unless footage of every single war zone and riot has lead me horribly astray over the years, then there will be a buttload of fires coming your way at the end of days. You can't ruin things without a fire; it's just not heard of.
If we have no firefighters left, you can assume your major metropolitan areas will become terrifying barbecue pits in short order, as the likely tens of thousands of people too stubborn to believe their homes aren't the safest place on Earth stay put and get roasted like tiny, delicious quail, only bigger and able to scream for help in their last moments. The rest of us will have to run that much faster to the relative safety of a dirt pit or the middle of nowhere, as the highly flammable bodies of everyone else fuel the inferno.
Bitterness and Ennui
Suppose you get lucky and it's a zombie apocalypse. I consider this lucky because it's one of the more easily survivable ones, from the looks of things. Hell, we've already shown how the whole zombie scourge would only last a year or two at most before it died out. Already on Walking Dead, zombies are treated as an afterthought -- they get killed as easily as you'd swat a fly now, so there's no real sense of dread there.
So you lucked out and you had the right set of skills, you outran all the fires, and your stomach can handle a diet of wild strawberries and stale soda crackers. Things are looking up. A couple of years go by and you don't see any more zombies, you have a little community of people, and you grow your own pumpkins and maybe free range chickens. Not bad, right? Also, you're 20 and this is all you have to look forward to for the next 60 years.
Also, a lifetime of easy access to Internet porn has ruined your ability to masturbate freestyle.
There aren't enough of you to rebuild civilization. Maybe all the mating pairs have matched up and you're the odd man or woman out. You have skills, but no one can build cars from the ground up, and all the gasoline is gone or expired. Power plants melted down or burned to the ground. The entire infrastructure of society is already going back to the weeds and the willow trees. Basically, your life, at best, is going to be that of a sexless yeti. There will never be a new book unless you write one yourself. There will never be a new person unless they pop out of the loins of one of your companions, and you're already at least 20 years older than them, so what the hell do you have in common? Your life is going to be as exciting to live as XFL was to watch.
And so this is what it comes down to: Would you even want to survive the apocalypse? Some people have a drive to keep going no matter what, but does everyone? Especially in a world where, technically, there's nothing left to live for? The world ended. It's not going to get better. At best, it's just never going to get worse. Can you imagine the pressure of that every morning when you wake up? Every day, you open your eyes and think, "Well, I hope it doesn't get worse." And if it doesn't, then that's the best day it could have been. A day when it didn't get worse than the world having ended once already. That's staggering in its crapitude. That's a perpetual motion cosmic rubber mallet to the balls. Well, at least it didn't get worse than the apocalypse.
"I continued to struggle with the concept of the pointlessness of my own mortality,
and the ever-escalating weight of another day's effort to survive ... but I saw a turtle, which was nice."
I'd wager, and maybe I'm dead wrong, but I feel strongly that most people who survived the apocalypse to the point where society could arguably try to start anew, just wouldn't want to. You'd get there and it'd be like realizing all your Christmas presents were filled with botulism. And you already ate half of them. Your bitterness, loneliness, boredom, anger, frustration, and total inability to suss out a single reason for any of this happening and your place in it would lead you straight to "fuck this" town.
Of course, some small group of people would probably enjoy that challenge of rebuilding society. Who's to say you and 13 other multiracial and marginally attractive people can't do that in a world overrun with Super Mutants and radscorpions? I just assume most of us wouldn't want to deal with that hassle simply because we're ill-equipped for such things. Individuals don't make the world work; the world makes us work. End the world and we're all in a tiny raft on a very shitty ocean. Plus, there's that whole poop thing I mentioned at the beginning. Please don't underestimate that.
For more from Felix, check out 5 Stupid Movie Genres (and Why They're so Popular) and The Single Most Useless 'As Seen On TV' Product Ever.
Are you on reddit? Check it: We are too! Click on over to our best of Cracked subreddit.