The End of the End of the World

As dystopian stories run rampant, Linda Yellin reflects on how she would survive an apocalypse

by Linda Yellin
The End Of The End Of The World
Photograph: by Igor Zh/Shutterstock.Com; Illustration by Timothy Goodman

I’ve never been keen on apocalyptic scenarios. I’m thrilled just to get through the end of the week. But lately dystopian entertainment has been running rampant. From World War Z (a mysterious infection turns entire cities into murderous zombies) to Divergent (all teenagers must submit to personality typing that will define the rest of their lives), every other book, movie or TV show seems to toss in an apocalypse or two.

Martin E. Marty, coauthor of Visions of Utopia, says interest in dystopia reflects “frustration during times of tremendous change, when people realize they have no control.”

I guess that means some people find comfort in watching future generations cope with chaos. “Food’s scarce? I’ll shoot squirrels!” (Hunger Games.) “Zombies crawling through windows? Where’s my machete!” (Walking Dead.) Maybe they’re taking notes—just in case. Not me. This focus on the freakish doesn’t help me sleep. So I’m declaring
a Dystopia Detox and proposing my own game plan: 

1. If a movie features a werewolf, totalitarian society or Will Smith, I’m canceling the popcorn.

2. I will not describe my personality with words like divergent. I prefer cheery, upbeat, popular.

3. No more reading trilogies. I want one happy ending, not three scary ones.

4. If teenagers become the smartest people on earth, I’m leaving

Next: How to Laugh Your Way to Success

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First published in the May 2014 issue

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