Who Wants to be a Flesh-eating Maniac: Apocalypse Edition

Okay, lame pun on the millionaire game show, but I’ve had a couple of kind of dark posts, so I have to lighten it up this week. So on deck, we have zombies. And actually, I’m not going to treat them with the same disregard I usually do (or I’ll try not to at any rate).

So, I’ve been working on rewrites of my latest piece, and I’ve been thinking about zombies. And yes, as much as I obsess about them, I still really do dislike them, even though they’ve suddenly eaten their way into it, and I think they may even get their own chapter. But I’m having a hard time trying to understand their motivations, or to make them believable. Because here’s the thing, in “my” apocalypse, they don’t have the excuse of some zombie-creating disease, they chose to become cannibals. I’m saying out of desperation and laziness, but is that really all that believable?

Are people lazy? Absolutely – I’m sure we’ve all met at least one in our lifetimes. Are there people willing to always put themselves first, no matter what that means? If you’ve ever driven on a public road and almost been run-over, especially by someone driving a massive huge truck, or you’ve been pushed aside in a line-up, then you also know this is true. The problem is, are there really people who would put themselves above others so much that they’d be willing to actually kill and eat someone else? I’m not sure.

There have been cases of cannibalism in our own history, of course. Aside from cultural beliefs and urban legends, I’m think of extreme cases where survival depended on it, like the Donner Party, and wasn’t there a plane that crashed somewhere and the survivors were forced to eat some of the victims to survive? And there are plenty of jokes about it too, but when it came down to it, could you get beyond not only coveting your neighbor’s wife, but eating her too?

Okay, bad joke, and I promised I’d be less flippant about zombies, too. Oops. I’ll try to behave. 😉

So, where were we? Oh yes, wondering what it would take to actually take that step. I personally think it would have to come down to a case of extreme survival. Which is what leads to problems in my story, since technically, there are other people surviving without resorting to eating each other. And there are likewise some who starve rather than resort to it. Is it just a personality thing? Perhaps the darkest part of personalities surfacing, latent psychopathy that was otherwise no too dangerous before the end of the world?

I recently read a study (sorry, I couldn’t find an online link), where it suggests more people are psychopaths or possess strong psychopathic tendencies than previously thought, so many in fact, that we’ve all probably met at least one. Does that say something about our modern human condition, which possibly “breeds” this lack of empathy for others? Or is it just a part of the humanity that we’re only starting to recognize, or is perhaps becoming exacerbated?

So, what do you think? Why do you think someone would turn cannibal? What would it take?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

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