A few months ago the idea of a Trump Apocalypse would have sounded ridiculous. A zombie apocalypse maybe? But not Trump. Never Trump. Now with the dust of the 2016 election settling, most people have resigned themselves to the fact that this man is our new Commander-in-chief. Cue the doomsday preppers and religious fanatics predicting that the world will come to a grinding halt. Perhaps it will, perhaps it won’t. But one thing is for sure. The idea is certainly appealing.
Let’s dig back a few years to an article that appeared in Scientific American. Remember back in 2012 when people were predicting that the world would end, due to the ending of the Mayan calendar? Go back further to Y2K. Evidently ones and zeroes were some apocalyptic shit also. The truth is, humans have been predicting the end of the world since, well…the beginning of the world.
According to University of Minnesota neuroscientist Shmuel Lissek, there is a good reason that the idea of the end of the world holds great sway in the human psyche. First of all, for fatalistic type people, comfort is found in doom that comes from some external force because it erases any burden of individual responsibility. Also, science has found that when unpleasant experiences are predictable, people relax. The anxiety of wondering what’s coming is lessened when someone knows exactly when it is coming. There’s no reason to worry anymore because the event is inevitable. Mental energy can now be focused on preparing, rather than wondering or worrying.
Furthermore, apocalyptic ideas are particularly appealing to people who have two specific personality traits, according to University of Kent psychologist Karen Douglas. The first trait is a sense of powerlessness, and the second trait is a distrust of authority. Conspiracy theorists feel like there is some powerful external force that is conspiring against humanity.
Trump certainly represents that menacing monster for many people; completely unstoppable and out of control, threatening to wreak havoc.
Novelist and child psychiatrist Steven Schlozman says that people are fascinated with what the end of the world would mean. Something about human nature loves the idea of having to survive or fight zombies or some menacing powerful force. In troubled times, people more frequently fantasize about the end of the world because a post-apocalyptic landscape might even seem more appealing than the present reality.
Not sure if we’re there yet with the newborn Trump presidency. We’ll have to wait to see if the Trump Apocalypse will be playing at a theater near you.
Featured image by Nathan Rupert via Flickr.