It’s not the end of the world. Let’s just clarify this here: it’s wrong to wave around an appropriated, mistranslated, and mishmash interpretation of a very real culture (see here and here for more details), just to live out your Mad Max fantasies. And it’s downright pseudo-pseudo-pseudo-science to claim rogue planets, meteors, conspiracies, or lizard-changing neutrino zombie people. Or something. (See here for a class in science and common sense).
That being said, if we were imagine hypothetically that today were the end of the world—completely unrelated to any misunderstandings/cultural exploitation of the Mayan calendar—what would happen?
1. Zombie Outbreak
What you think would happen: You’ve lived out this fantasy the most, admit it. Yeah, you haven’t actually wielded a katana before, but how hard could it be cutting through the endless hordes of the undead? Just fortify the Ratty (limited entrances and endless food), hunker down with your undead friends, and kick back.
How it’d actually happen: Turns out playing eight hours of Left 4 Dead a day doesn’t really prepare you for zombie hordes. You’d find yourself in Grad Center, winding through narrow corridors, the light flickers in and out, oh god oh god oh god … Plus, we’d have a really hard time distinguishing between pre-meds in finals and the half-rotten dead.
As seen in: Outbreak, Contagion, and The Hot Zone.
What you think would happen: That one class of microbiology you shopped completely prepared you to deal with a world-ending disease. Just steal all your roommate’s Purell, and start secretly planning a trip to Madagascar.
How it’d actually happen: We’d make Keeney into a plague ship (more than it already is, at least). The other dorms start isolating themselves, enforcing militant isolation policies. Cue Housing Games. You really wish you took better notes in Public Health. SPG has marginally decreased attendance this year.
3. Planet of the Apes
As seen in: … The Planet of the Apes.
What you think would happen: We, for one, welcome our simian brothers. You’d write a stunning paper on inter-hominid interactions, and a scathing critique of anthropocentrism. We’d draft a universal bill of rights for all sentient beings, and protest when the military discriminates against non-human peoples. We might even dress them up and take them furniture shopping.
How it’d actually happen: We get poop thrown at us and they attack. Turns out, despite our protests of H. sapien hegemony, we forgot they don’t actually speak English. Also, James Franco is nowhere in sight to save the day (that’s the real shame here).
4. Alien Invasion:
As seen in: War of the Worlds, Independence Day, and The Avengers
What you think would happen: You’d totally pull a Jeff Goldblum a la Independence Day and write a computer virus to crash the alien computer systems. That’s totally what we do in CS15 right?
How it’d actually happen: Unfortunately, Brown Secure AND Brown EZ crash, and our brave CS concentrators get vaporized by a death ray. Luckily, it turns out they’ve been building a giant awesome laser gun in Barus and Holley. The SciLi opens up, revealing a BFG and with a pew-pew cannon, complete with whirring noises and flashing lights. With a shuddering boom we shoot down the UFOs and tripods one by one. Nobody makes fun of engineers ever again (still don’t wanna go into the SciLi though).
5. Monster Rampage
As seen in: Godzilla and Cloverfield
What you think would happen: Clearly, like in Cloverfield (aka hipcats being killed by monsters), you’d be at some ugly sweater party when the monster strikes. Luckily your RISD friend is not only there to document the whole thing, but also compile it into a 3-hour experimental footage meant to express the trauma of the whole event. It gets a permanent display in the Granoff.
How it’d actually happen: Well, big-bad-monster would knock over the two skyscrapers in Providence, and then kinda get bored. We’re not a very fun city to rampage through …
6. Meteor strike
As seen on: Armageddon and Deep Impact
What you think would happen: Assuming you survived the blast, the world falls into a nuclear winter. Having spent the better part of sophomore year attempting veganism, you’re used to eating barely passable food/pretending inedible things are edible. Thus, you survive the mass extinction, and together we establish a locavore utopia as the skies clear.
How it’d actually happen: Let’s be real: Meteors are one of the few mass extinction events on Earth. We’d all be squashed. Only the lower levels of the Rock would survive, and everyone would just be pissed about the loud noises in the AQR.
As seen in: The Day After Tomorrow, Waterworld, and real life
What you think would happen: Having swam in the Nelson every other day (fine, maybe every other month), you’re completely prepared for the water-logged life. You’ve even seen The Life Aquatic and have your orange beanie!
How it’d actually happen: The lucky few make it to the SciLi (second highest building in Rhode Island, WHADDUP?). When the waters fail to recede, we start building an ark, but then we begin arguing about the implications of the gender binary when we bring two of each animal on board.
8. The Apocalypse (like, the real thing)
As seen in: The Bible
What you think would happen: Well, O’Reilly would probably say we’re a bunch of secular, hedonistic non-believers, so that maybe one or two of us would be taken up with the Rapture (probably the most awkward way to leave a conversation). And for the rest of us? Cue the Horsemen, death and dying, antichrist, etc.
How it’d actually happen: Actually, that sounds about right. But you’ve also been keeping up on Supernatural erotic fanfiction so you know how to avert the End of Days.