I live in Manhattan so perhaps the human crunch of overpopulation is felt most on every forced trek through Times Square on the most cursed of days. This week I’ve been plagued by the thought of how incredibly overpopulated the planet is. I attempted to watch the documentary, “Wasteland,” which was allegedly uplifting (according to Netflix reviewers) but instead haunted me terribly. After five minutes of watching garbage pickers of third world countries dealing with our trash, I did what is so convenient for those of us fortunate enough to inhabit an overpopulated, “wealthy” nation. I essentially closed my eyes and stopped the film. Happy or not, these people are living in filth and I cannot shed the guilt for being a part of a society that creates so much waste. And with all the consumer power I have to boycott certain companies or products that accelerate the trash build-up, it’s not enough to help me sleep well at night.
I don’t doubt that the overpopulated world we inhabit will someday be a planet no longer inhabited by people. I strongly find it within reason that human beings could become extinct. I imagine a global human celebration of some narcissistic, entertainment-fueled technological advance (perhaps a device where people create holograms of themselves and play act all day) coinciding with the last day for human life. Because short of a time-machine, I don’t see any entertainment, money-making product will be developed to dig us out of the terrible hole we’ve dug and continue to dredge. What more ironic way to go out than a day that sees humans celebrating how brilliant we are for coming so far ahead of previous generations. And if an entertainment device doesn’t come along to save our planet and ourselves, then there’s certainly never going to be enough time, research, and energy put towards something that solely solves all our problems in lieu of distracting us from them.
While I entertain the ideas of overpopulation, I start to wonder about what the ideal population for the planet would be. My boyfriend suggested 50 million, but he is from Texas and clearly enjoys uninhabited space. I could be satisfied with 500 million. If only the destruction of people by nature and our own mistakes were more selective and the good people were left (or we were so far spread out that it didn’t matter). If women like the psychotic M104 bus driver from last Friday could disappear, because even with one fewer bus driver in my neighborhood– I’d clearly still be left walking A brief tangent, but last Friday I was running late to dinner and boarded a bus downtown. Not three blocks later did I realize that I had forgotten the gift certificate for the restaurant and had to run four blocks and up five flights of stairs to retrieve it. I returned to the bus stop and sat for nearly ten minutes. The bus arrived and I waited while a child and elderly couple boarded. Once aboard, I inserted my metrocard into the card reader and it instantly read “invalid.” Before saying or doing anything, the bus driver’s tirade began. “You can’t be doing that! You have to wait eighteen minutes before you use that card on my bus. You just can’t do that! I don’t know what you’re trying to pull!” Taking a verbal beating from a woman in front of a bus of curious passengers without any expectation of anything being wrong was quite a jolt. I was probably just a minute or two shy of having a working card, but nonetheless I was told to get off the bus. The subway wasn’t running due to the typical, “earlier incident” excuse that the MTA most often provides. So I walked, and at each stoplight for six blocks, the bus stopped as the driver watched me continue to walk. I’d like to blame her as an individual and the MTA as an organization that attempted to better our lives but has created nightmarish encounters just the same. If the population were to selectively diminish, she’d be a huge gauge as to whether I’d want to stay or go.
It would be nice to be part of a time in history where nothing has been designed or organized to the point it’s at today. Otherwise, I’d love to be part of an era where we are given a new start. Not because I have any insight on how to perfect things (though I probably have more insight than any of the NYC MTA’s employees). I would just like to be part of something before the shit hits the fan. And honestly, for anyone born in the 80’s and onward, I’d imagine most of you have observed that in many ways, you’ve reached or approached adulthood as the shit hit the fan, from 9-11 to the 2008-whenever economic nightmare. I don’t consider it pessimistic to accept that within my own lifetime, I don’t think things will get better to the point that they need to. And in spite of the pass that religions and elders give us about humans not being perfect, I think we may have stopped striving to come anywhere close to perfect. Because luxury and selfishness can justify not striving for perfection. Or for those in third world countries, paying the consequence for some of our luxuries, are far too overwhelmed with survival to consider solving the problems we’ve cause. In the meantime, should human extinction occur in my lifetime (I’d imagine some of us human beings will at least make it for another century or so), I hope some being finds this blog one day and gives me an “I told you so” moment. Because, some day, continuing on this path, it’s coming.