Zombie Fighters Grow Here
I’d been feeling rather grumpy about the world. My latest codger complaint: humans are becoming connected to a hive mind through communication facilitated by e-media and are disconnected from the natural world. We’ve created a virtual zoo where we can see our neighbours but can’t touch them. We pace the Internet like bored animals, hardly able to recall what it is to be free of our electronic cages.
Yes, I think like that sometimes, and sometimes I even say it aloud. Not in public, but to my children—poor children.
I was thinking about this virtual zoo one morning as I was driving my 14-year-old daughter to town. We were sharing the special silence only possible with a teen who’d been fully asleep just 10 minutes earlier. Suddenly she said, “Some of my friends think a nuclear apocalypse would be cool.”
The virtual zoo slid away, replaced by radioactive wastelands. Cool? Cool? What part of this scenario would be “cool”?
After determining the extent of this “cool” apocalypse (utter devastation, a world-wide retaliatory response), I launched into lecture mode. “Surviving a nuclear apocalypse wouldn’t be the same as surviving an asteroid impact—you couldn’t just come out of your bomb shelter in a year and go find something to eat. If you could come out in a million years, you’d look around and see if a) anything had survived at all and, if so, b) what it evolved into. The world wouldn’t be the world you know now, with cell phones and grocery stores.”
“Exactly!” She clarified: “Maybe it’s not so much a nuclear apocalypse that would be interesting…maybe it’s more of a zombie-type thing.” Ah, that’s good—physical destruction of the natural world isn’t what she and her friends want; cultural obliteration would do the trick. A zombie apocalypse. And I thought I was grumpy.
And the reason why…would be…??
“There’d be no more politics, or terrorism, or worry about climate change or pipelines. No more worrying about who’s liking us on Facebook, or whether we’ve got the right clothes or right music.”
Warming to the topic, she threw out more words, trying to explain: “There’s something missing… We want something real, concrete…”
“Something satisfying, authentic….”
“Yeah, we don’t want superficial, we want to be connected, and creative, and not always told what to think.”
“You want to experience life as it really is, not a virtual model?”
“You want to be animals.”
“Pretty much. Zombie-slaying human animals!”
And I laughed. Hahaha—what a glorious day! My feelings of disconnection were being validated by someone at the other end of the generational divide. I wasn’t just an old fogey cranking on about society going to hell. Young people were feeling it too.
We’re asking the same questions about the superficiality of our lives, the disconnect with our physical-not-virtual community, asking about what really matters in this one life of ours. You know, the things people talk about over breakfast, or on the drive into town.
Like zombies and stuff.
This summer, my 22-year-old son—who is not a zombie—took a couple of months to travel across Canada in his car. No agenda; he just wanted to taste the air, swat the bugs, see what people see in other parts of our country. When he left, he said he’d be open to staying somewhere long-term if he found it to his liking, but expected to come home to Smithers because this is where his family is; this is where his friends are. And come home he did.
Some of us were jealous—not of sleeping in a car so much (although kind of), but of his being able to ship anchor any time he wanted. No pressure, no deadlines, no structure save that of the highway. And no data plan on his phone. He talked via text only. He saw icebergs. Farley Mowat’s grave. Scary drivers. Scarier mosquitoes. Real lobster. Real hospitality. He was a creature exploring the physical, not pacing the Internet in a virtual zoo.
Maybe it’s the air, or the mountains. Or the people we share our watersheds with. Whatever it is about where we live here in the North, it’s good for our kids and, therefore, good for our world.
Zombie-fighters grow here.