Here’s a somewhat misguided, very creepy-sounding (interjecting “dear friend” and “my sweet friend” into an open letter is cringe-worthy), but somehow also useful (but not in the way it was intended) letter: “A letter to a friend who condemned me as a hopeless doomer”.
The letter is about how there’s no hope for the human race on earth, so we should, um… I guess that’s the extent of the letter, except that, oh, we should also open our eyes in some vague way to come kind of generalized and collective death that is right around the corner. But we should also prepare for this nebula of undefined disasters, i.e. stock up on flashlights. “I would feel pretty silly when the lights went out and I had no water,” the author explains. So, stock up on water, too.
The comments are a bit more useful than the letter, which, despite the weirdness I just described, does relate to something I—and I presume all self-identified doomers—know all too well: being hammered with hope-soaked technotopian assurances at the slightest mention of a real problem, like disappearing bees, bats, forests, fish, soil, and potable water. And, yes, this can get annoying, if it’s not done in the spirit of a conversation or debate where each side genuinely hopes to both test their own assumptions and learn knew ones.
But given the problems just mentioned—which are the tip of the iceberg, for a disaster/melting ice caps pun—I don’t see how gathering flashlights or anything else is a strategy with any chance of “success”; anything less than a directed, democratic, and gradual restructuring of everything down to animal/sustainable scales would to me seem like failure. If 10% of humans survive by killing the other 90%, I’m not sure it would feel like a solution to a problem, but rather probably more like a last resort: the admittance of a critical failure.
I wish the letter were more specific about what exactly the friend suggested the letter-writer do. All it says is: “And you too, my sweet friend, are inadvertently and unconsciously contributing to that through your, albeit well meaning, attempt to create a ‘safe’ place for people to share their feelings, and talk about hope, as if hope will somehow miraculously heal the planet or stop the science in its tracks.” [sic] Is the friend facilitating a support group, or a new-age vegan cult?
There’s a huge difference between trying to support and uplift people and simply blowing smoke up their ass. Does the friend think we’re on a sustainable path, or is the friend just resigned to living the happiest and most productive life possible under the current circumstances? Choosing joy, even in ephemera, certainly shouldn’t be a strike against someone, especially in these dark and boring times.
Perhaps it would also be helpful to revisit the many definitions, including my own, of the term “doomer.” I would like to revise my original definition by adding that often times people who are labeled “doomers” are simply people who can extrapolate a pattern and see what happens further down the line: someone who, say, can look at data suggesting that 90% of the large fish in the ocean have been killed since 1950, and simply continue that pattern hypothetically into the future (it doesn’t look pretty). That kind of recognition doesn’t make one a prepper or a hoarder or a doomsday prophet (commenters on the aforementioned post kept talking about the “enlightened” ones, meaning themselves—ugh), but simply makes them a rationalist. But seriously, when—when—all the large fish in the ocean are dead, what good will flashlights do?
In the meantime, I suggest trying to strengthen friendships, not severing them.
I also suggest having no or less kids, growing food and flowers, supporting community-based organizations, and learning useful skills, among other things. But I retain the caveat: some problems doesn’t have solutions.