How do you think you'd behave if you were the last person on earth? Would you run wild and free, or would you try to maintain some sense of decorum?
It's no secret that I love science fiction. One of the genre's I particularly enjoy is the "something happens to almost everyone else and you are one of the few left standing" type story. (I should point out that I only enjoy reading or watching these -- I have no desire to experience it in the flesh, as it were).
One classic story of this ilk is The Stand by Stephen King, which evolves from a "nasty artificial virus gets out" to "the final confrontation between good and evil."
Another interesting one is the graphic novel Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. The idea behind this one is that something kills every living mammal possessing a Y chromosome except for our hero, Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey. Now, you might think that being the only man left standing in a world of women would convey certain advantages. It turns out, however, that quite a lot of the ladies are of the opinion that one man in the world is one man too many, and they feel obligated to try to rectify the situation.
The reason I'm waffling on here -- actually, I'm hoping to impress you with my Atticism (why yes, I did just received today's "Word of the Day" from Dictionary.com; how did you guess?) -- is that I just started watching a relatively new TV series called The Last Man on Earth. I can’t recall how I ran across this, but I downloaded the first few episodes to my iPad to give me something to watch on my recent trip to the UK.
The first episode starts off with a caption that reads "One year after the virus…" This very tidily sets the scene without consuming a lot of time explaining what happened. It also leaves us with a strangely -- yet refreshingly -- tidy world without any dead bodies strewn around.
The story is set in 2020 when we meet Phil Miller who -- to the best of his and our knowledge -- is the only person left alive on the planet. We follow Phil as he travels around the USA looking for any other survivors before returning to his home town of Tucson, Arizona.
We then observe how loneliness takes its toll on things like Phil's sanity and his personal hygiene, eventually leaving him lounging in -- while simultaneously drinking out of -- a plastic pool full of alcohol.
Eventually, the loneliness becomes too much, and Phil decides to take his own life. He's only seconds away from driving his car into a rock when he sees the smoke from a camp fire. When Phil investigates, he meets a lady called Carol, who is a really nice person, but also something of a nag with more than her fair share of eccentricities.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the plot, but I do want to share a few thoughts. When Carol first meets Phil, he's striding around wearing naught but his underwear. When they later drive to a store, Carol is horrified when Phil drives through stop signs, and she goes ballistic when he parks in a handicapped slot outside the store.
On the one hand, I can see Phil's point of view. If you truly believe that you are the only person on the planet, does it really matter if you prance around in your undergarments and drive through stop signs? On the other hand, having mulled this over for the past few days, I honestly believe that I would continue to wear my shorts and Hawaiian shirts (at least when going somewhere). I also believe that I would largely continue to follow traffic signs and that I certainly wouldn’t park in handicapped spots.
Silly? Maybe. It's hard to explain. I do have a deep respect for authority and rules and suchlike that I think would persist even if that authority had evaporated. I also think I'd have niggling thoughts along the lines of: "What if my mom and dad are looking down from above watching me do this?" How about you? If you were to find yourself in the position of believing you were the last person on earth, how do you think you’d behave? Would you run wild and free, or would you try to maintain some sense of decorum?
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting
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