The Apocalypse. That is a major pop-culture focus these days. Usually people put “zombie” ahead of “apocalypse”. I don’t give a crap about zombies. That said, a state of civilization-as-we-know-it collapse feels like a possibility within my lifetime and there ain’t need to be no decomposing corpses walking around eating braaaaains. And what scares me about this? My skill set is not especially tailored to a post-apocalyptic world. I find myself worrying that, if civilization collapses in the next 50 years, I won’t have the skills to survive. There won’t be a huge demand to fix apraxia of speech or correct /r/ sounds when the world burns. So, what should I be able to do? Well, first, let’s narrow down the definition of disaster.
Level 1 Apocalypse: this is economic and social implosion a la Brave New World or The Dark Knight Rises. Society is no longer as we know it. Social services? No such a luxury. The rich and in-control is a small subset of humanity that govern almost all of the resources while little is left for the average person. Life is hard. You need ingenuity to survive. It might be hard out there but computers survive (and maybe even thrive); infrastructure crumbles but remains and the accumulation of society’s knowledge is generally intact. Dystopia and it’s most likely.
Skill set required:
Invention/Research – get one of the few coveted “real” jobs by selling your soul to a BigPharma or another mass marketing conglomerate (read: Oryx & Crake).
Mechanical – your car broke down? Fix it yourself from kitchen-appliance parts because you won’t be taking it to Canadian Tire. Score some much needed flour and butter by fixing your neighbour’s oven.
Computer – hack your way into a database. Set up an internet connection from pop cans, some bobby pins and an old car battery to stay off the grid (and stay safe!).
Level 2 Apocalypse: complete social and economic destruction as seen in The Road (sans zombies) or The Chyrsalids or The Hunger Games (at least as represented by life in the poorer districts). Humans have to start again from close to scratch. Many people have died be it due to environmental turmoil, natural disaster or war. Technology has been thrown back to the middle ages or earlier. It is a new kind of poverty and the previous knowledge base no longer exists.
Skill set required:
Construction/Tool-use: we’re starting from scratch here. You need to be able to build a reasonable shelter. It would be in your best interest to be able to fix (or create!) things like a well or pulley system for well water. The last 5 blacksmiths in the world will be in huge demand. Being able to build yourself a greenhouse wouldn’t be such a bad thing if you insist on living in Canada.
Agriculture: oh, you wanna eat something? Well you had better be able to grow it, and harvest it and then turn it into something edible. Get used to saving your seeds, ploughing the field and milling some grain.
Weapon Use/Hunting: Being able to aim a gun or, possibly better for when the bullets run out, fashion a bow and arrow and use it to kill game wouldn’t be a bad idea. If you’re forced to live in the woods or the enviro-disaster makes crop growth impossible then eat some animals. Few vegetarians will survive this level. Plus, you’ll need to defend yourself against thieves using their muscles to take the benefits of your skills.
Now that we have established the types of dystopias and the needed abilities it is important to decide on which set to focus. It boils down to: which do you think is more likely? The future I worry about looks more like a Level 1. Looks like I had better develop some mechanical “how-stuff-works” knowledge or computer expertise. Right now my survival likelihood is low.
Or I could just learn how to make and distribute moonshine. That would definitely be a boon in Level 1 and could come in handy in Level 2 depending on the level of collapse.
Help me out: What other skills could come in handy? What do you think your likelihood of survival is?
On that note, HAPPY NEW YEAR!