On Saturday, residents of Hawaii were on the receiving end of a terrifying, shocking, once-in-a-lifetime-we-can-only-hope push notification. A ballistic missile was en route to Hawaii, the alert warned, and people had only a few moments to seek shelter. It was a glimpse of the apocalypse in real time, as a successful attack on Hawaii — presumably by North Korea, the only U.S. enemy in proximity with access to that kind of destructive technology and the fuck you attitude required to kick start the end of the world — would have likely triggered a back-and-forth of nuclear payloads between us and them, whoever them was.*
Thankfully, and obviously, this did not happen. Hawaiian officials quickly corrected course, letting people know that the warning was sent in error. An employee on shift change, their story went, had accidentally selected the wrong item from a drop-down menu. He had done this twice, in fact, because when you’ve accidentally endeavored to start World War III, you may as well do it again.
Weird, but, okay, fine, let’s go with it.
A single near-nuclear crisis in one week is spicy enough for most of us, but then today, Japanese TV network NHK Television "accidentally" issued emergency alerts warning residents of a looming nuclear attack from North Korea. "North Korea appears to have fired a missile," NHK said, according to the Associated Press. "The government: Seek shelter inside buildings and basements."
Within moments, the network had corrected the alerts and was busy apologizing. The culprit this time? A employee "operating the alert system for breaking news," who had triggered the warning in error. “The flash was a mistake,” NHK said. “We are very sorry.”
So, to recap. In less than one week, two world powers have “accidentally” initiated a procedure to warn the citizenry, in no uncertain terms, that the end of the world is coming. This procedure is not an intensely safeguarded process, as it should be; it’s apparently easy enough for any bumpkin to click the button because he hadn’t read the instructional manual. The simplest explanation here is troubling enough. Our governments, tasked with hiring the most professional people around to be responsible for the most delicate matters of national security, have apparently recruited a squadron of Beetle Baileys, whimpering to Sarge that it’s not my fault they instigated a collective psychic breakdown over the likelihood of nuclear war.
But here’s another, unprovable theory that I nonetheless believe is true: The warnings were a false flag. The “accident” was faked. The powers that be — call them the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, the American Airlines Ten Million Miles Club — have long considered the possibility that the planet is on the way down, and decided to see ahead of time what it would look like. How would the citizens of the world respond if they believed the end was nigh? Would they take to the streets? Would they commit whatever crimes they could? Would they call their senators, their news anchors, their mail man? Think of nuclear panic as a social experiment meant to crack our souls open and reveal the deepest, instinctive fears possible. I mean, really: How weird is it that this happened twice within two days? Very. You think this was an accident? You think a fuck-up this epic wasn’t focus tested ahead of time by the lizard cabal that lives at the center of the Earth? Get fucking real.
In the end, the answer to what we’d do was pretty simple, but no less informative to the masters of the universe: We were all on our phones, waiting to die. Maybe that’s the end we deserve.