I was wrong I think about why apocalyptic narratives are so popular now. Or at least missed the largest single explanatory factor.
Previously, I thought they were popular because climate change is obviously occurring and this will potentially be a civilization-ending process. Yes, that does have something to do with their rise but probably isn’t the primary reason.
I suspect these narratives are common now because in an apocalypse, if you survive everything you do has value and is consequential. Unlike most of our bullshit jobs, our worthless daily activities that benefit no one and most likely harm many people, everything one does in an environment of collapse has immense meaning — for surviving, for helping others and for having a future at all.
Craving meaning is what I think is going on here. Yearning for something unequivocal. Part of why young people vote for Sanders in such overwhelming numbers is this same quest for meaning, the hunger for something that matters. Young people aren’t dumb. They know a life of precarious and poorly-paying jobs making someone else rich — and from which they will never be able to retire — will definitely not be a happy or fulfilling life. (And they resent it even more when their “wise elders” who had it much better than they ever did or will condescendingly inform them that they must suffer this way to fund the lavish retirements and keep up the house prices of those who’ve directly harmed them.)
Apocalypse is in vogue because what you do — the choices you make — can’t not matter.
Now, for many young people and quite a few older ones, any choice they make won’t really matter at all.
One can see the appeal.