Dec. 21, 2012 has come and gone, and contrary to the Mayan prediction of a possible apocalypse, the world keeps turning.
But Dec. 21 was not the first time the world was supposed to end. In fact, Nathaniel Eugene Terrell, chair of the sociology department and associate professor of sociology, said doomsday prophecies can be traced as far back to the Romans, nearly 2,500 years ago.
“In our culture, especially American culture, we’ve had it (end of the world predictions) for years,” Terrell said. “It’s embedded in the religious culture that there’s going to be an end time, so when someone in a religious (group) says it’s going to happen, they believe it and buy into it.”
Terrell said there were reports of people trying to flock to a city in France because it was supposed to be the “only place left” if the world ended Dec. 21, and one man even gave away $200,000 of his savings to secure a spot. But Terrell said he and his family went about the day just as any other, which included attending and celebrating his son’s graduation from the police academy, and that it was a “good thing we didn’t do anything stupid, like give away all of our money.”
Students like Derek Wilson, freshman biology pre-med major, also treated the day as regular.
“There weren’t any special, last minute things I wanted to do,” Wilson said. “I try to live every day as if it were my last.”
Predicting the end of the world is a bit like starting a diet, Terrell said. Several days before the diet starts, a person eats as much junk food as he or she can in order to hold themselves over during the diet. In times of end of the world prophecies, some people try to have to have as much fun as they can or complete their bucket list before the end. But the diet doesn’t last that long, and the world doesn’t end, and pretty soon a new diet is started and a new apocalypse date surfaces.
“I’m a true believer in terms of Christianity,” Terrell said. “No one knows (when the end will come). If you’re not prepared, then, yeah, be afraid.”
Terrell said making predictions is simply human nature and that part of the obsession comes from just wanting to know “when all of this will end.”
“I guess it’s something to get all stirred up about and something to talk about,” said Erin Fuchs, junior business administration major. “Everyone knows about it…it’s just a unified theme.”
As the cycle continues, a new date is set for the world to end on Jan. 1, 2017.
“I’d say, eventually, there’s going to come a time when the world will end,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if it can necessarily be predicted.”