May 20, 2011

Why was Zombie Apocalypse Trending on Twitter?

For the last 24 hours or so, "Zombie Apocalypse" has been trending on Twitter in large part because the CDC recently updated their website with a popular tongue-in-cheek blog post about Zombie Apocalypse preparedness. But is this the only reason?

Do not adjust your television set....
The CDC blog post, titled "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse" gives a brief history of zombies before providing readers with survival tips such as what useful supplies to stock and what procedures to follow in the case that the dead rise. Like the Zombie Squad has been doing for years, the CDC is using the imagined scenario of a zombie attack to deliver very real and very important survival tips and emergency preparation education.

But the CDC blog post wouldn't have gone viral if zombies weren't a firmly entrenched part of modern mythology and popular culture. In North America, which is growing increasingly polarized along religious and secular lines, the fictional narrative of the zombie apocalypse has replaced many people's visions of Biblical end times. News providers and websites know that zombies are a popular hook. For example, the CDC article caught the attention of CNN who are themselves no strangers to writing about Zombies in an attempt to capture readers with an interest / love of zombies. Last month, Elizabeth Landau wrote a piece for CNN's Geek Out section called "Inside zombie brains: Sci-fi teaches science" that focuses heavily on Dr. Steven Schlozman's new book: The Zombie Autopsies.

But is it just the CDC, news outlets, and the enduring popularity of zombies in popular culture that fuels this recent flood of Zombie Apocalypse messages on Twitter? I think there's more to it. As we approach the weekend, there is a whimsical sense of apocalypse in the air among skeptical denizens of the Internet. This sense of doom is predicated on the advertising campaign you might have seen from the Christian Family Radio network that predicts the end of the world and Judgement Day to be THIS SATURDAY: May 21, 2011. According to Family Radio president Harold Camping, Judgement Day is tomorrow.

Oh, yeah. That sure sounds "awesome."
With all this talk about the end of the world handing over us at the same time that an esteemed organization such as the CDC posts a Zombie Preparedness blog, I can't help but think the two are feeding off one another in the collective consciousness to push "Zombie Apocalypse" into a Twitter trend.

I guess it never hurts to be prepared, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that we're all going to wake up on Saturday morning -- physical and of this earth -- with the realization that Judgement Day or the Zombie Apocalypse did not occur. Yes, that means you still have to pay your bills and do your homework, but it also means a continued life ahead of you to enjoy all the great zombie movies, books, and video games to come.