The world is ending right now! Unless you believe the Mayans were operating on Daylight Savings Time, in which case the clock is ticking on both Earth's final hours and the race for the stupidest near-apocalypse preparations.
The last day on Earth is actually supposed to be December 21, but of course it's already Friday in some parts of the world and maybe it doesn't end until December 21 is over, which would mean midnight on Saturday ... somewhere. Either way New Zealand appears to be intact at the moment, so whatever ideas you've been saving up since the last time the world was supposed to end had better get out of your system now, because Mayan calendar fever has almost reached its uneasy conclusion.
The New York Post takes the most obvious (and most Post-ian angle): People are trying to get laid. You see, unlike every other Friday night in New York City, this one will be different because this time singles are really desperate. We're not sure how much research went into this trend piece, but quotes like "It's like New Year's. I want to go out on a wild note!" probably wouldn't cut it as captions in a Maxim photo spread. Thankfully, BuzzFeed's Katie Notopoulos has found some desperate virgins who might accommodate all the horny people in Bushwick.
Other newspapers are taking a more "can you believe this crazy talk?" look at the phenomenon, though a few of them gamely tried to spin the local news angle. (Headline: "SO-CALLED END OF THE WORLD HAD A START IN COLORADO")
Naturally, corporations want to get in on the fun as well. (They are people too, you know!) Jello-O is offering pudding as the "funnest sacrifice," to the Mayan gods, Kraft was giving Canadians free macaroni and cheese (a survivalist staple); and ... we're not sure what Old Spice is doing with this Dikembe Mutombo Flash game.
Oh, if disaster prep is cutting into your meal planning time, Oprah has you covered.
In China, they're taking things a little more seriously. Authorities there have been rounding up members of a Christian sect called the the Church of Almighty God, which is using the end of the world as a recruiting tool for their theory that God is already living among them (as a Chinese woman.) In a country where even mainstream religions are marginalized and oppressed, the fear is that these outliers will spread panic and disorder—unlike the disaster-porn movie 2012, which was a huge hit in China, in part because the fictional version of their country provided the "arks" that keep humanity afloat. They were slightly bigger than this guy's all-too-real survival pods.
Then there are the true believers, survivalists, and other "preppers" who have spent months or years preparing for this day. Reuters had a rather startling slideshow showing some of the intense efforts being made by some folks to stock up on supplies for when the mess goes down. (The Atlantic has more photos too.) Just to be safe, one Michigan school district has decided to shut down for the rest of the year rather than deal with the headache of it all. (Though some post-Sandy Hook threats of student violence didn't help, either.)
And, of course Twitter will be overwhelmed with doomsday jokes, hashtags, and Michael Stipe memes that have already been beaten to death for last year or so. #EndOfTheWorldConfessions isn't so terrible, actually, but most of Mayan 2012 jokes can be safely avoided if you don't want to seem repetitive or uncreative.
Of course, no one is even sure how the world is supposed to end today anyway. Interplanetary collision? Cataclysmic earthquake? Super volcano? The sun shutting off? The fact that we can't pin down a time, a cause, or a location for the end of our days makes it a little hard to panic effectively, but at least it provides a convenient excuse to take a vacation to Mexico in the middle of December. And because you can't your money with you, you might as well make it a round trip.
But take heart: Even though calls to NASA have more than doubled over the past week, the agency has some good news: "Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.