A 5-Point Guide to Keeping Your Sanity When Society Collapses

Technology has been developing at unreal speeds in the last couple of decades. You’ve probably heard enough people say this, but let me say it again: over the past century, the rate of development has been increasing exponentially. Of course, this can only mean that we’re heading exponentially faster towards the kind of society people write books and make movies about: a dystopian one. 

For the sake of optimism, let’s assume a total collapse isn’t going to happen in the near future. 

For the sake of cynicism, what if?

There has never been a dearth of doomsayers – of doom both natural and man-made. Some of these cheerful folk are ready to embrace the horrible reality of whatever comes, while the more practical ones would want to keep themselves prepared, give themselves a fighting chance. Modern-day “preppers” usually have insanely huge stocks of preserved food, ostensibly to help during a natural disaster. But what about a man-made downfall? One would assume a dystopian society would form gradually, over the course of a few bad years, but all it could really take is a trigger-happy Head of State pressing a big red button. When the world gets thrown into chaos, you don’t want to be unprepared. So here’s a guide to prevent – or at least delay – losing your marbles.

Life is a movie. And any movie needs good background music. Except for silent ones, I know. Well, dystopian life isn’t silent, and you’ll need something to distract yourself from the pressing issue of existence. What better way than to blast your favourite playlist while trudging through the day? Picture this: the year is 2100. You gather in the town square to listen to the daily government broadcast that’s always a recap of the nation’s greatest achievements of the year. There are cameras everywhere and you have to look interested. Easier said than done, of course, but you’re listening to your trusty playlist of ‘10s hits!

On a different note, take the dystopia of Panem from The Hunger Games. I don’t recall anything being mentioned about it, but I imagine a fight to the death can be made a little more bearable with the right tunes. Or maybe not. Moving on!

Smile through the pain. Did I mention what kind of movie you’re in? A comedy. A black comedy, to be precise. When life’s great troubles overwhelm you and make you spiral completely out of control, what else is left to do but to laugh? Gallows humour usually doesn’t involve you, the laugher(for want of a better word), being a part of the joke. But hey, society has collapsed, who’s keeping track anymore? There’s biological backing to this one: laughing produces happy chemicals in your brain, yada yada yada. All that is good, but being able to laugh at your own misery – and not in retrospect, but while you are going through said misery – is truly a gift. It lets you detach yourself from all your problems, if only for one artificial moment. You can separate yourself from yourself, if that makes any sense, and take in your situation from a third-person vantage point. Unhealthy, some might say. But what is health without hope?

Hold on to each other. And not in the cheesy way. I mean literally hold on to each other. You may or may not be familiar with the power of the human chain. When the government’s minions come to take you away for crossing the limit on happy time, you want to put up a fight. Hold on to your comrades, and tell them to hold on to theirs. So far, the human chain’s strength has been symbolic. Case in point: in 2010, fifty thousand people in Andhra Pradesh formed a human chain to appeal for the formation of a separate state. And guess what? 

When you’re headed towards your end, however, rules tend to get thrown out the window.

Ignore this point if the minions don’t shy away from dismemberment.

Hold on to each other. In the cheesy way. This had to be included. There will be no elaboration.

Convince yourself the world hasn’t reached the point of dystopia. Yet. While reading the first two points, did they seem eerily similar to how you already live life? Well. Make of it what you will. I will, however, say this: when faced with a particularly hard-to-digest truth, denial is the way to go! On a real note, aren’t the conditions in a few countries today akin to a dystopia? Are we better off where we are? Would the whole world look advanced or dystopian(or both) to the eyes of someone from the 15th century?

How people imagine a dystopia itself is subjective to a lot of factors like personal trauma. After all, isn’t everything governed by perspective?


Searching for a purpose, writing in the meantime.

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