The 2012 Phenomenon: The End Of The World?

An overview of approaches and reactions to the 2012 phenomenon.

Sell your house, your car, don’t bother about the painful mortgage, the present economic slump or the job you desperately need. Enjoy life to the maximum until December. The train will arrive at its final destination on 21st December 2012. Or… maybe not…

After the Y2K phenomenon in 2000, which was also considered a cause for the end of the world, and the failed predictions of Christian Radio broadcaster Harold Camping for May 2011, among others, it is now time for 2012. The 2012 phenomenon is essentially a collection of prophecies and beliefs which claim that something very special is going to happen in 2012 on a cosmic scale.

The huge array of such claims is mainly based in different interpretations of an ancient Mesoamerican calendar. The now famous Maya “Long Count Calendar” stops at 21st December 2012 thereby ending a cycle of 5,125 years. Many interpret the end of this cycle as being calibrated to astronomical events which in turn will have some sort of effect on Earth.

Grosso modo, these interpretations comprise two distinct perspectives: On one hand, there are New Age movements which actually believe the end of the calendar to be the start of new human spiritual enlightenment. These movements consider that we are on the verge of transitioning to a new type of human consciousness leaving behind what they qualify as being an “Age of Decline”. This particular belief uses the Maya Calendar and its conception of World Ages as its basis, but goes beyond it and draws associations with other ancient cultures, for example, with concepts which are present in Vedic traditions.

On the other hand, we have Doomsday theory proponents who state that the winter solstice will be synonymous with destruction. The factors for such gloom and doom are incredibly diverse. Some think it marks the return of alien gods, others fear the return of a far away planet which will collide with the Earth. Polar shifts, deadly solar flares, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, comet collisions, and supernova explosions count themselves among the reasons predicted. Although these theories seem to take 2012 in two opposite directions, there is rather a binding factor. The common aspect is the calibration of the calendar with astronomical events. Both New Age movements as well as doomsayers base their predictions on the Maya Calendar, among other sources. However, the decisive element is that they all believe that the calendar itself is closely linked with supposed galactic alignments. The alignment which most of the theories evoke is one expected to occur between the Sun, the Earth and the center of the Milky Way on 21st December 2012. Whether it portends havoc or triggers dimensional consciousness shifts, the majority of 2012 believers give significant importance to this alignment and consider the Maya calendar a countdown to this event.

The “end of days” phenomenon would not be complete without the proper coverage. All around the world, the media have trained their attention on the gradual passing of 2012. The Discovery Channel and the History Channel, for example, have been airing a series of documentaries about the end of the world in 2012 since 2005. These doomsday shows are very popular and these channels are making it worthwhile for themselves. It goes from the pyramids to the Maya, from crop circles to aliens and to Nostradamus, who has been a regular appearance in the debate.

The film industry was also aware of the potentials of such a phenomenon. Following the same path as “Armageddon” or “Deep Impact” – the usual depictions of meteorites who don’t like us so much, Roland Emmerich’s “2012” is Hollywood’s take on the subject. Due to the film’s massive marketing campaign, the phenomenon was brought even further to the mainstream avenue. And people seem to enjoy it. This dramatic portrait of the end of the world had revenue of almost $770mn. However, the advertising made for the film was the object of some controversy. It involved the creation of a website run by the fictional “Institute for Human Continuity”. Anyone could register on the site in order to win a lottery ticket. This ticket would supposedly allow them to have a place among a small group of people who would be rescued from the final cataclysm. Incredibly, the effect of the film’s propaganda was so huge that many were worried this might be true. What followed were several inquires to NASA asking if the site was real and if people should prepare themselves for what is going to come. On a different note, "Melancholia" by Lars von Trier develops itself against a background of one of the most famous 2012 doomsday theories. The film explores the relationship between two sisters during and after one’s wedding party where all the while, a planet is about to collide with the Earth.

Literature also caught the gravy train of 2012 and proved to be a goldmine to hundreds of authors who deal with these prophecies. The amount of books written about 2012 is simply huge. Yet, it is the Internet that makes 2012 a real phenomenon. Here lies the truly utter chaos of 2012. The web is filled with thousands and thousands of sites that explain, dismiss, prove or make fun of 2012. One site, which claims to be the “official site of December 2012” was filled with advertising for survival supplies stores, sold t-shirts that read “Doomsday 2012” and even featured a list of celebrities who are “believers”.

The hoax and misinformation that accompanies most of these sites gain a different dimension on YouTube. As gladiators in the Coliseum, these theories are disputed in the YouTube “arena”. Here we have thousands of videos which show a mysterious planet which some expect will collide with the Earth, making its calm, undetected journey through our solar system. These videos, in turn, have their counterparts, in similar numbers, dismissing such statements. All are followed by miles of commentary and discussion that dwell on topics from government cover-ups to hidden aliens that actually rule the world. New Age believers as well as non-believers mock the “fear mongers” and their hysteria. The latter though wait eagerly for the opportunity to say “I told you so”. This, however, will not be possible if they are correct.

So, should we worry? Is the world really going to end? We don´t know. But if one takes a closer look at what the majority of these prophecies and predictions postulate, it is most probable that on 22nd December 2012 we will still be here. Moreover, the end of the world as we know it will likely have more to do with our own actions rather than with a supernova that exploded 30,000 light years away. The world is indeed changing, the global economy is on the brink of a huge recession, there is famine, disease and massive poverty throughout the whole planet and, last but definitely not least, war between Israel and Iran is imminent. No wonder so many “wish” for some kind of “flushing”.

If, however, nothing happens on 21st December 2012, and if somehow the after parties for that Friday (which are currently being planned on Facebook) do not compel you, worry not. We will have a new phenomenon in store for 2060, predicted by Sir Isaac Newton and his reading of Biblical prophecies.

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