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Ramifications of a Lackluster Rapture: Google Trends and the Social Media Response

By Megan Marrs May 23, 2011 Posted In: Google Comments: 0

Saturday has come and gone, and the continuously impending apocalypse has been put off once again. No people levitating into the sky, no fiery asteroids hurtling towards earth, just a volcano in Iceland letting off some steam. Even the volcano’s biggest threat was that it might possibly disrupt flights in Scotland. Very terrifying.

By now we should be well accustomed to being disappointed about end time prophecies. With Y2K still fresh in many minds, hopefully we’ve developed a healthy enough dose of skepticism to be critical of such predictions. 

Human history has been littered with apocalyptic predictions. Can you guess how many have come true?

The World is Ending … Again

But I suppose you can’t really place too much blame on people like Harold Camping, who predicted the end of the world on May 21, since such behavior is hard-wired in us. As the Chicago Tribune notes:

Its appeal seems hardwired into the psyche: Humans like a story to have a beginning, a middle and an end — as Aristotle advised budding Greek authors, more than two millennia ago.

Narratives are natural for humans, and since death seems to be a cliffhanger no one really knows the conclusion to, it’s natural to imagine elaborate endings to our time on earth that are more physical and concrete. Even the first Christians who knew Jesus predicted that the world would end in their lifetimes.

Google Trends and the Rapture

Let’s see what Google can tell us about people’s thoughts concerning the rapture.

Taking a glimpse at Google Trends, we can see that on Friday May 20, “end of the world may 21st” queries came in at the #5 spot, topped by searches concerning wrestler Randy Savage (who died in a car accident that day) and New Zealand Earthquakes.

Now let’s see Saturday’s results:

Google trends

It seems the anticipation was more exciting than the actual Saturday, as searches for rapture-related topics fell to lower positions on the big day.

Laughter = Best Medicine

The comically inclined had a field day on Saturday, spreading photos and tweeting humorous reactions to the lack of fire and brimstone.

Rapture

Facebook’s Random Acts of Rapture Page/Event became a breeding ground for similar pictures, as the heaven-bound vanished, leaving their earthly clothing behind.

George Takei

George Takei’s response to the uneventful rapture

With famous wrestler Randy Savage’s death lining up with the predicted rapture date, some imagined he might have had a hand in earth’s protection.

Randy Savage

Looks like the world won’t be ending this year. Let’s hope you didn’t cash out your savings bonds and go on a reckless spending spree as some unlucky believers did.

But if you’re just dying for an apocalyptic showdown, fear not, 2012 is just around the corner. And you know if the Mayans and Nostradamus predicted it, rather than some old man from Colorado, it must be true!

Tell us, did you do anything special for May 21, 2011?

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