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The Five People You Meet on the Apocalyptic Message Board

Probably the largest collection of conspiracy theories on the internet--which is saying something--can be found on the 2012 Forum, an old-fashioned message board full of people who are convinced that something
Harry Cheadle
Κείμενο Harry Cheadle

Probably the largest collection of conspiracy theories on the internet—which is saying something—can be found on the 2012 Forum, an old-fashioned message board full of people who are convinced that something, they’re not sure what, is going to happen soon. In its 11 years of existence, about 400,000 posts have been created by 9,000 members, almost all of whom seem to legitimately believe in the crap they write. On these credulous boards, you can go around saying that you’re going to literally transform into a dragon next year and be met by people replying with earnest-sounding, incomprehensible bullshit. A total lack of hard evidence that anything apocalyptic or even interesting is going to happen next year has resulted in every poster having an individual “theory” cobbled together from YouTube videos and self-help books. Still, there are some clearly identifiable substrata of true believers, for instance:

This category includes Robert Bast, the Australian who founded the forum back in 2000 along with a host of other 2012-related sites. In an email, he said there was a 90 percent chance that there wasn’t going to be a spiritual awakening or a major disaster next year, but “2012 provides a fine excuse to prepare for all the terrible events that can happen at any time—supervolcanoes, comets and asteroids, war, civil unrest, flu pandemic and so on.” The survivalists don’t really concern themselves with galactic energy fields or Masonic signs—they discuss pragmatic questions like, “What kind of gun should I buy?” and “What’s the best vehicle for an extreme survival situation?” You get a sense that their “preparations” are maybe just an excuse to do fun hobbyist stuff like stockpile food, build bunkers, and purchase armored vehicles from the Russian Army.

The opposite of the hard-nosed survivalists, these members create thousands of extremely confusing posts about tarot cards, numerology, and dream interpretations. In the old days, they would have been scammed by gypsy fortune tellers, but in the internet age they write things like this (sic): “And it fits both astrologer C.C. Zain's interpretation and the Freemason Frank C. Higgins. A key and a mandala that both carry the celestial CODE 11 2 5 8 and the KEY itself makes a reference to 1/137. 137 being a numb3r that bridges the physicist and the mystic.” They will discuss this type of thing for pages and pages, while pretending that it makes perfect sense.

Some people aren’t willing to say, “I think an invisible planet will suddenly collide with the Earth and all life will end,” or “The time 11:11 has complex, ominous connotations,” because that would be totally insane. It sounds much more rational to say things like “Never completely deny, but never completely believe. (11:11)” as a poster writes in this thread. It appears to be a compromise between wild-eyed wackiness and boring skepticism, but “having an open mind” in this context means, “How do I know the beans aren’t magic?”

There are a bunch of time travelers, Antichrists, and “human aliens” floating around the forum, and they have their own “Special Visitors” section, where they are mostly ignored or ridiculed. When this forum thinks you’re a few cubits short of an ark, you’re in trouble. These visitors would be funny, except they aren’t used to this planet’s grammatical conventions and are bascally unintelligible. Some of them could be trolls, but in a place like this it’s nearly impossible to tell.

Nearly everyone who talks about the apocalypse is secretly excited for it—if we were the culminating generation of humans on Earth, we’d be pretty important, after all. Most of them won’t admit it (except for one guy here), but give some people half a chance and they’ll write make-believe journals from their ideal future that include anecdotes about shooting sheep-rustlers and contemplating suicide. For 2012ers, the end of the world would mean a chance to have the ultimate told-ya-so moment when your neighbors knock frantically at your bunker door while their faces melt off and you tell them “Sorry, we’re full.” If their looked-for apocalypse happens they’ll go from a bunch of eccentrics exchanging jargon-laden theories over the internet into the most important people in the world—no wonder they’d be excited for the end. The problem is, for every Noah there were a bunch of crazy dudes who built boats in the desert.