What Post-Apocalyptic Movies Teach Us About People…

The Walking Dead, Bird Box, The Road, Battle Royale, The Hunger Games, great post-apocalyptic movies and series. I am obsessed with that genre. Not sure why. Maybe because it gives me a glimpse in how people may behave during unreal events. It shows what people are capable of. Because I get that view of what people are capable of, for sure I have a plan in case of a Zombie outbreak. It is not like I am a doomsday prepper. Just that I like to be ready. Here how the plan would go:

  1. Pause and observe what is going on. Use the drone to get a bird’s eye view
  2. Find the right people to partner with
  3. Get to a local airport and fly out with a Cessna (most owners leave the keys on the plane)
  4. MOST IMPORTANTLY: stay away from people – more on why later…

I am not the only one to be obsess with the post-apocalyptic genre. The Walking Dead broke all viewing records. They even came up with a game in which you had to choose between agreeing/disagreeing to loot the stranger’s car or shooting Kenny/Letting Jane die. And after each hard decision it gave you statistics on what the rest of the players would do.

What you see in these movies/series is that the worst threat to humans are not the zombies, aliens, or other bizarre creatures the producer came up with… The biggest threat to humans are humans. In the movies, our survival instinct kicks in, and we suddenly do what must be done to survive or protect people we love. However, the trick is that “what must be done” get real nasty real fast: eating human flesh when there is nothing else to eat and turning a school teacher into a stone cold killer overnight are some of the most frequent situations of the genre.

These situations are so far fetched and so disconnected from real life that people may look at them with a utilitarian perspective. An example of that way of thinking is the Trolley problem:

You see a runaway trolley moving toward five tied-up (or otherwise incapacitated) people lying on the tracks. You are standing next to a lever that controls a switch. If you pull the lever, the trolley will be redirected onto a side track, and the five people on the main track will be saved. However, there is a single person lying on the side track. You have two options:

  1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.
  2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

When you present the problem that way, many “rationale” people will say one person dying is better than 5 people dying. at that point you can twist people’s mind even more. What is the one person on the track is a kid, what if that person is one of your relative, or what if the 5 people are proven murderers…

Obviously there are no right answers to the trolley problem. My point is more that life is not black or white. Circumstances and context can change the way people think about life.

Now think about some parts of the world where atrocities happen everyday. Think Rio’s favelas, Soweto’s townships, regions ruled by drug cartels, child’s soldiers. People there are seeing or even experimenting terrible things that may compare to what we watch on TV for entertainment. We judge them based on what they are doing. We do not review the consequences of what led them there. Zero empathy. Especially when we consider that our governments may directly or indirectly be connected to what is happening to them.

Long way away from the topic of negotiation and being woke? Not really. Painting the image of a context may be a more powerful way to convince someone than trying to change their mind directly. Also, let’s not judge some people in the developing world too swiftly. Some fancy traders in London may kill for sport in case of a zombie outbreak…