Problem Management — speculation

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's grief cycle consists of five stages of emotions commonly experienced by someone experiencing a sudden loss:

  1. Denial — No.
  2. Anger — No!
  3. Bargaining — No?
  4. Depression — no
  5. Acceptance — Yes.

The loss may be the death of a loved one, being laid off from a job, or even being told that one has an incurable terminal disease. People typically experience all stages and experience them in this same order, though the amount of time spent at any one stage can vary considerably. Individuals may even become stuck at one stage and never move on.

A person told they have non-operable cancer will at first deny it: they'll say it's only indigestion, they'll go to other doctors for second opinions, or they'll simply ignore it. Then they'll become angry and blame others: they shouldn't have put those nitrates into my sausages, they shouldn't have sold me those cigarettes, they etc. Next they'll try to bargain their way out of it: I'll eat broccoli every day, I'll go to church, I'll exercise, I'll etc. Then they'll dwell on what this means: they'll soon die and cease to exist, their future is gone, their life is meaningless. And finally they'll accept reality: they'll understand that their life will soon end, will make peace with their friends and family, will tidy up the loose ends of their life, and will enjoy the little time they have left.

Just like individuals, societies as a whole may also go through a similar grieving experience. Following World War II, and especially with the development of fusion bombs and biological weapons and the recognition of the harmful effects of pollution, it became apparent, at least in the Western world, that society, and perhaps humanity itself, would not last much longer. Although most individuals don't share or perhaps aren't even aware of this view, popular culture reflected the resulting stages of grief.

The 1960s and 1970s were an era of denial. Beatniks and Hippies saw a beautiful future, one that was possible through peace, love, and cooperation. Government and the man were responsible for all problems so it was simply a matter of ignoring them and rejecting society's traditional norms and standards. The buzzwords and songs of the time exemplified this feeling: ☮Peace man!, All you need is love!, War is over if you want it! Free love! Turn on, tune in, drop out!

The 1980s and 1990s were an era of anger. Music shifted from love and peace to fear and hate. Punk rock and grunge replaced melody and harmony, and goth culture replaced communes and love-ins.

The 2000s and 2010s are an era of bargaining. The Church of Environmentology and events like Earth Hour offer simple things we can do to save the world. Change an incandescent light bulb into a compact fluorescent one, use a cloth grocery bag instead of a plastic one, or drive a Prius, and you've done a wonderful thing. These actions will obviously prevent the world's destruction.

Soon we'll enter the stage of depression. More and more youth will have no ambition and will drop out of school. More and more people will give up their careers and families and live minimal lives for the current day. Suicide rates will greatly increase. Society will continue to collapse.

Acceptance will eventually follow. But by then, we'll all be dead.