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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Recently, I was sprawled out on my couch, flipping channels and minding my own business, when I came across a program on The History Channel that freaked me out of my sloth-like daze. The television program I am referring to was, of course, about the apocalypse.

I should have known to switch to "Scrubs" when I heard the deep, booming voice give the introduction about an end-of-the-world prophecy as "Doomsday: 2012" flashed across the screen, but I put the Pringles down and watched the show.

Bad idea.

From what I gathered, doomsday has an exact date: Dec. 12, 2012. I say this because apparently, the Mayans made a calendar thousands of years ago, and it ends on Dec. 12, 2012.

The Mayans, one of the thriving peoples in Mesoamerica, had a thing for calendars and astronomy. Their "long-count" calendar goes in cycles of about 5,000 years, and according to Mayan literature, each cycle has brought about different changes in the earth. So according to their big, bad calendar of doom, we are in the age of the fourth cycle, which reportedly began on 3114 B.C. and ends in 2012 on the winter solstice.

OK, so I have no idea what any of this means, but if a mystical Mayan calendar that, according to astronomers and scientists, has been correctly predicting astronomical phenomena for thousands of years ends in 2012, it must not be good.

I thought I was nerdy for being a little freaked out by the whole doomsday thing, but my fear is nothing compared to what other people are thinking. After researching 2012 a little further, I have come to the conclusion that it is probably a bunch of baloney, because there are - and I mean this in the nicest way possible - a lot of people coming up with completely insane theories about the Mayan calendar and the December doomsday date.

I'm not trying to be mean because we all have a little crazy in us, but when people start writing page-long articles about how the Mayans hold the key to humanity, which was given to them by extraterrestrials who will descend from the sky in a big ball of metal and reveal all secrets, finally making it possible for all humans to practice telepathy, it is … how do I say this … a little hard to believe.

But doomsday theories have been around since the beginning of time. It seems that we are fascinated by the day on which the world will actually end. If you remember, Y2K brought similar feelings of panic and doom. As the minute hand neared midnight on Dec. 31, 1999, we counted down, half anticipating some sort of explosion, and half waiting for computers to crash and ruin our lives. But none of that happened.

I'm sure the same thing will happen Dec. 12, 2012. There will be a lot of superstitious people in caves, waiting for a giant meteor or an alien spaceship that will never come.

But on the other hand, we have been through a pretty rough few years, with all the wars and environmental concerns. So who knows, maybe this time it's for real. Maybe the Mayan calendar will predict the apocalypse.

And if that's the case, will you be ready?

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Colleen Shea is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column appears on Fridays.

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