Sunday, May 22, 2011

Apocalypse . . . Later

I'm not making fun. Really, I'm not. But I'm certainly having fun. So are a lot of others.

The Rapture and beginning of the end was supposed to happen May 21, 2011.

Let's be honest. The thought of the world ending, of the apocalypse? A little scary.  Even if a person doesn't believe or take it seriously, many can't help whistling past the graveyard.

I wasn't a believer that May 21st was the end of times, but I am a Christian. Religious beliefs are personal, and, of course, something that shouldn't be mocked or laughed at. However, that being said, I have used my own religion in horror stories I have written, both as a mirror held up to my own beliefs as well as a way to attempt to look at the beliefs I was raised with through someone elses' eyes.

I also understand that, for those who truly believed yesterday was a significant day, the fact the Rapture didn't happen is a big disappointment.

But some good did come out of it. People all over the world came together to share in some laughter, sometimes nervous, sometimes just raw unadulterated guffaws. (And in all honesty, I'm a firm believer that, no matter what spiritual belief you subscribe to, humour is universally good and something that can be shared.)

I participated in something being called "Rapture bombing" -- setting clothes up to make it look as if a person has been transported up to heaven. I thought it might freak out or confuse either some drunk stumbling home from a local bar or perhaps make a morning jogger look twice.

Mostly, it just confused my neighbours on their way to Canada's Wonderland early yesterday morning. They laughed when they later saw my Facebook post with the picture and the "ahhh" moment hit them.

There's a great article by Alan Boyle called "Left behind" by humorgeddon which nicely summarizes how the prediction opens the door for levity.

I particularly like the one post he eludes to in which David Kinsey, via a Facebook post suggesting people pose without their clothes (ie, pose their clothes without them in them), and then, at the end of the day, give them away to a charity. Great idea for people to have fun, then donate to a good cause. Two good things - a laugh, then a charitable donation. Smashing idea.

What Boyle says regarding the humour being a reaction to the stress of all the hype makes sense to me. A lot of my horror fiction, for example, pushes over into the absurd and dark humour in recognition of the manner by which we sometimes react to stress and horror -- we laugh. (I think one of my favourite collection of ghost stories is by Robertson Davies - it's called High Spirits, and the stories are just as humorous as they are eerie, they contain parody alongside chills)

But I've quite enjoyed some of the humourous references made to the Rapture, through Facebook, Twitter and in various other media sources. Twitter even had a humorous #endoftheworldconfessions hashtag. One of my favourites was when someone tweeted:  "I let the dogs out. It was me." as their confession.

One of the top 10 lists on David Letterman, for example, was regarding the top things to do during the "end times" - my favourite was the one about playing a slide whistle while the righteous ascended into heaven.

Writer Kevin J Anderson (@TheKJA) posted this on his twitter feed: "Oh, it's 6:30 already. I've been so busy editing I didn't even notice the world ending at 6 PM. Did somebody record it so I can watch later?" Seems he was making as much fun of our society's "I'll have it my way and when I want it" tendency as of the false prediction.

Another writer, Nancy Kilpatrick posted this to Facebook as her status:  "Well, now that the Rapture has come & gone, I can finish up with packing for NYC, I'm at BookExpo America on Wed., May 25th 10 am @ the main autographing (booth 22) for EVOLVE and 3 pm @ the HWA booth for CHILLING TALES. If you're there, stop by & snag a free signed copy."

A tweet I saw this morning from @MarkJustice went like this: "Hi, boss. I know I quit my job and told you I'd be in Heaven while you heathens would be left behind. Uh, could I have my job back? Hello?"

There are too many more examples to point to, but the evidence is clear. Speculation about the Rapture certainly allowed a chance for people to come together, be creative and share humour.

And that's a good thing.

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