Let's collectively wind down what we all know is a waste of our lives. After all, 10 years of real living beats 30 years of pointless monotony.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris / Unsplash
"I am full of heartache with the current conditions. Makes it hard to care at work. It's not intentional quiet quitting. It's despair, ennui, apathy. I wish I had energy for anger. Fuck rich people and their fucking ruthless greed." - Anonymous

While the foundation of our civilization crumbles, you can't pretend to care about meaningless things like corporate politics, meetings and petty arguments.

A small but growing number of people feel this way, aware of spreading ecological destruction, brewing genocides, rising autocrats and simmering nuclear tensions.

Even those not paying attention sense that something is wrong. After all, once-in-a-century wars, economic crises and social ruptures are now a regular occurrence. It has been an exhausting decade or two. Covid, inflation and daily reminders of climatic destruction are pushing many over the edge. People are defeated.

The countdown has started and, for those who feel it, the approaching end has created urgency to make the most of remaining time.

Let's be real though. Most people still care more about celebrity worship, new purses and frequent flyer miles than their children's future. They won't actually say that. In fact, they don't actually think that. But their actions speak on their behalf.

Mainstream media might not give it the attention warranted, but the proliferation of social media, newsletters, websites, etc. continues to expand grassroots awareness of the poly-crisis. As awareness spreads, more people become disillusioned.

We all have our own viewpoints on what exactly is in store for humanity. But the common thread is this - whatever "this" means - is unsustainable.

Knowing there will be an end creates clarity of mind and motivation for behavioral shifts.

With this knowledge, how does a society react?

I see it everywhere. While some hit a boiling point and are quick to explode, many have simply checked out. At work, especially.

"I am Canadian and I witness it every day at work, and for my American customers, it is the same thing. People are defeated."

I recently wrote about the analog between becoming collapse aware and receiving a terminal medical diagnosis. It changes one's perspective. What was once indefinite becomes finite.

How to Collapse: Despair in Terminal Decline
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

In that article, I wrote about the individual response to devastating news. This article explores what happens when a growing portion of society changes behavior.

Of course, not everyone will react in the same way or even have the same information. Society is a collection of individuals with distinct interpretations of the world. People react differently to information, but most will fall within the belly of the normal distribution curve, settling on a market price for the new normal.

This is important to understand, because our average response to doom is re-shaping civilization long before it implodes.

Normal Distribution - Explained Simply (part 1) - YouTube

Take a random sampling of the people in your neighborhood - how will most alter their behavior in a way that reforms the community?

Consider the options: apathy, violence, harmony, conflict, reprioritization, distraction, camaraderie, isolation.

The most worn path is apathy - particularly toward the things people typically care least about. It's easy to be apathetic. It is energy-saving, while most other reactions are energy-intensive. It's also the reaction requiring the least amount of uncomfortable change. You still go to work and earn a paycheck. You simply stop putting in extra effort.

Recently, I've been hearing more anecdotes about people doing the bare minimum at work. A while ago, the media called it quiet quitting. That was a symptom of the same disease.

Wealth inequality, collapsing middle class, corporate exploitation, political division, war, biosphere destruction. There's plenty of reason to believe meaningless work should no longer rule your life.

Of course, this assumes you can get a job in the first place. Despite the rallying cry "nObodY WaNtS tO wOrK aNyMoRe" by businesses everywhere, there is an abundance of underutilized and underpaid labor.

"My work motivation has hit an all-time low"

What happens when nobody cares anymore?

Throughout this article I've scattered quotes from disillusioned individuals, realizing the deck is stacked against them.

Many can get away with doing the bare minimum because most jobs are bullshit middle-management, paper-shuffling roles with little societal value. Who knows why these jobs exist at companies that claim to be profit-oriented - David Graeber, author of "Bullshit Jobs" provides his theory in the video below.

As described by Graeber, there are many jobs that are simply unnecessary. My concern is what happens when the people doing valuable work - mechanics, plumbers, nurses - cut corners. There is a developing hypothesis that we are seeing an increasing number of disasters caused by human error because employees are not motivated.

"I absolutely feel that most of my coworkers are doing the bare minimum and at best are partially engaged. I do not see true passion at work anymore in younger folks nor my generation."

Economically, a demotivated workforce can decrease productivity and innovation, hampering growth and competitiveness on both national and global scales. This can result in a sluggish economy, reduced consumer spending, and potentially raising unemployment.

Perhaps stepping away from unnecessary work to fulfill unnecessary wants is the antidote we need.

Unfortunately, many people associate their personal value to their work. Realizing work has no meaning can increase stress, lower life satisfaction, and deteriorate mental and physical health among the population. Such societal malaise can strain public health systems and social safety nets.

In 1973 John B Calhoun conducted research on the overcrowding of mice in an otherwise "utopian society" that he constructed. He published his findings in an article called Death Squared: The Explosive Growth and Demise of a Mouse Population. As expected, a small initial mouse population placed in a utopian condition (endless food, water, no predators, etc.) rapidly reproduced. However, the population stopped growing and eventually collapsed as the over-abundance of mice left many without meaningful social roles. This devastated the social behaviors that would normally lead to reproduction, leading to population collapse.

One doesn't have to strain to see the parallels with current human society: overpopulation, an inability to obtain a meaningful social role, anti-social behavior, declining family formation and birth rates.

Calhoun concludes:

I'm not saying this is negative. Indeed, maybe this is what forces industrialized civilization to slow down.

Ending the charade

As reality closes in, more people will stop pretending their work is important and scale back their efforts. We must redirect this conserved energy to more meaningful pursuits. Otherwise we risk a path similar to the Calhoun's mice. (Although slower population growth would be welcome, we want to manage our descent rather than being pushed off a cliff.)

While this won't be enough to prevent the ship from sinking, at least we'll get to listen to the string quartet as the ship goes down.

Perhaps humanity's final years will be its best. A period where the 5 stages of grief are counterbalanced by a renewed vigor for happiness and meaning. A period in which we abandon our fluorescent soaked drudgery and rediscover sunlight and soil.

Let's collectively wind down what we all know is a waste of our lives. After all, 10 years of real living beats 30 years of pointless monotony.

Let's stop chasing manufactured dreams and living the lives crafted for us by our overlords. Saddled by debt straight out of school, compounded by a mortgage, only to spend a lifetime paying it off. What was the point of all this anyway? To have a faster iPhone?

"I have worked so hard to build a healthy financial life. I had my mortgage pre-approval at the end of 2019 and was looking. I was also in the process of changing careers to become a nurse. Then boom, the pandemic hit. Prices have since skyrocketed. What I had worked so hard to save is now half of what I need to buy a home. My income hasn't doubled, but everything else has. I'm still living with my parents with no hope of changing that. I worked full time while being a full time student. I'm exhausted and right as I was close to the finish line, it got pushed out by at least 10 more years. I feel like my ambition has been stolen. I no longer care to climb the ladder. I. Have. Given. Up."

Blessed art thou, technologies that ease my burden and allow me to communicate to the world. Call me a hypocrite but we probably should have stopped at the washing machine and maybe redirected our industrial might to health, heart and housing. Instead, we spent the last 50 years building new carrots to chase.

Let's embrace the death of the American dream, and instead build communities woven by skill and relationships.

Envy the defeated because they're closer to knowing the way forward. They have the most time to repair their psychological damage and fill the rest of their lives with meaningful endeavors.

Stepping into this new way of thinking can feel like taking a loss. But for every part of the "dream" you give up, you unlock a new reward.

  • You can't afford a house? Share a home with the people who care about you most.
  • Food is getting expensive? Enjoy the nutrition, flavor and experience of growing your own.
  • Airline manufacturers aren't tightening all their bolts? Stop flying, discover your local wonders, save your money.

I'm being callous and I appreciate not everyone has the option. But my point is the changes we are making as a society by rejecting our destiny can be replaced by something that marinades the soul.

Let's make our remaining time rewarding and pleasurable.

Collapse 2050 Manifesto
Climate change. Economic collapse. AI takeover. Nuclear exchange. Class warfare. The risks are real. Things are getting worse and we all see the signs around us. Civilization is crumbling, yet nobody talks about it. How can you when only a small portion of the population is “collapse aware”. Nobody wants