Apocalypse Alternatives

So I encountered a post elsewhere and… uh…

What’s an appropriate response when someone is in so much despair they want to extinguish humankind in hopes someone else will do better?

It seems to be a common feeling, given the approval ratings of giant asteroid impacts instead of our current ruling class.


People in general, engaged with each other in terms of mutual respect, are far better than the cynical killers that keep electing themselves heads of our affairs.

That’s the context I speak from in those occasions.


I’d say that depends on whether they really feel that in earnest, or are just venting frustration. I think the “common feeling” that you’re talking about tends to be the latter: not a genuine feeling of wanting to be annihilated, but black humour being used to highlight the frustration of dealing with a seemingly-insurmountable obstacle.

If it’s just venting, I recommend letting it pass unremarked-upon.

If someone is actually, legitimately feeling like the world would be better off after an asteroid strike, they’re probably in the grips of clinical depression. The best treatment would be to go see a therapist of some sort, but that’s an option that isn’t available to many. The next-best thing would be to redirect that energy towards making a difference to solve the issues causing the despair.

If that’s the path you want to go, I recommend:

  • pointing out that an asteroid strike would be even more harmful to the Earth’s biosphere than humans have been (it’s like curing cancer with a guillotine),
  • reminding the person that the only reason why there’s a problem is that the masses won’t get off their asses and take back power from the destructive elite, and
  • suggesting a group to work with to combat the problem (e.g. the DSA Medics or the People’s Climate Movement).

Replace the helplessness and nihilism with a way to actually enact change, and it should allow the person in despair to look towards a better future, rather than towards annihilation.


That kind of despair is easy to fall into if you don’t spend enough time on mundane things.

It seems a lot less awful if you spend a bit of time talking with normal people about normal things (not politics). I can’t solve the world’s problems, but maybe I can help my daughter solve a problem she’s having. I can’t solve the country’s problems, but I can be there for my friend while she vents about stuff. Listening to the news might make everything sound terrible, but listening to my wife tell about the weird dream she had is funny. Coworkers or strangers are good to talk with about mundane things.

Doing mundane things is good too. Focus on a hobby, yardwork (if your yard isn’t covered in snow and ice) or cleaning, or put on some music and try cooking something that you haven’t cooked before. Things that bring you back into the moment and life.

Consider looking through a Stoic Week Handbook particularly the bits about thinking about how you react to things you can’t control versus those that you can. A lot of that type of despair is due to the futility of focusing on things out of your control and not noticing all the smaller stuff that’s good and doable.