Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Real Threat of Zombies

Do you encounter zombies in your workplace or personal life? Those flesh-eating folks who plod along sucking the life out of…life.

Hang with me here for about 45 seconds as I go into a short version of an academic dance…

Why is the whole zombie thing so popular on so many levels? Fear. They are just human enough that we don’t discount them like space aliens, but they are still scary. In reality, though, zombies as literary and cinematic characters have been popular in our culture in times of recession, epidemic and general unhappiness; the real bad times...times like now.

Here’s the real problem: In the world of fiction, when zombies appear they almost always lead to an apocalyptic future, a future in which humanity is pretty much doomed unless we can do something extraordinary to defeat the zombies, to cure the virus. In other words, the appearance of zombies probably leads to a bad end and it’s a done deal; like a lot of folks are trying to convince us the current situation in life, in the United States, is.

Daniel W. Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and the author of "Theories of International Politics and Zombies," points out that the real threat of zombie fiction is that we start to believe the analogy. We begin to think—assume—that the threats we see, cyber attacks, pandemics, and global terrorism, which the zombies represent in fiction, will create an apocalyptic world and we can do little or nothing to slow them down or stop them.

(End of class…now for the “good” stuff)

Max Brooks's novel "World War Z” (the source of the Brad Pitt movie from the summer of ’13), shows the adaptability, ingenuity and creativity of human beings. The movie showed that we’re smart and we can overcome. As Drezner writes in the Wall Street Journal,  “Any species that has managed to invent duct tape, Twinkies and smartphones stands a fighting chance against the living dead. Narratives about flesh-eating ghouls should remain scary—but they can also remind audiences that we have an enormous capacity to adapt to new threats and overcome them.”

Here’s my basic point: Those flesh-eating, light/fun/energy-suckers who float through your life (and who, unfortunately, may work at the next desk or live in the same house) don’t have to lead to a life that’s an apocalypse, and a done deal. We all make choices and if you continue to think/feel/stay with the zombies you’ve made the choice to become one. 

Let the zombies stumble on their way. Stay positive and reach out to positive people, have goals, keep moving, read/watch/listen to positive information, use positive self-talk to keep yourself in a good place; those are the antidotes to the zombie virus.

Or, atomic weapons. And a big fence. And a chainsaw. In fact, there’s a list, “10 Ways to Kill a Zombie,” if you’re looking for them.

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