My son and I like to watch “Life After People” on The History Channel. The show is a thought experiment that examines what would happen to man-made structures and nature if humans suddenly disappeared while leaving everything otherwise intact.
I like the show but one thing about watching it creeps me out.
I came of age during the late ’70s-early ’80s when post-nuclear apocalypse stories were all the rage, so I spent a lot of time thinking about what such a fallen world would look like. I like the show because it provides a realistic vision of what the world of my childhood nightmares would look like. It evokes in me a kind of nostalgia of horror.
A lot of people seem to think of all the infrastructure of modern life — buildings, road systems, dams, etc. — as natural features of the landscape. By demonstrating what would happen to these systems if humans stopped maintaining them, the show demonstrates that the components of our infrastructure are all dynamic systems that require constant inputs of energy, labor and material to exist and function. Like living tissue, they exist in a continual state of regeneration. Stop that regeneration or just slow it down and the systems collapse.
More people need an intuitive understanding of this truth.
On the other hand, I always feel a sense of disgusted unease when watching the show. Why?
Well, have you ever been looking at an innocent picture of children, say some kids at the beach, and then have one of your oh-so-insightful friends point out that somewhere, some pedophile is looking at the exact same picture and getting a sexual thrill?
I get that same creepy feeling watching “Life After People” because I know that somewhere a lot of environmentalists are watching the images of nature destroying the works of humanity and wishing in their hearts that it would actually happen. For these ideological perverts, the show is a form of pornography that provides images of the world that in their hearts, they want.