Wrapping up the rapture

So much for Judgment Day. The world did not end over the weekend, as scheduled. Now what will we all make fun of?

If you are reading this blog post on this lovely spring morning, it can mean only one of two things: a) you're a sinner just like I am, or b) the rapture wasn't quite as rapturous as its believers, well, believed it would be.

Judging by the reaction on the Internet, you'd think evangelist Harold Camping's calculation that Judgment Day would occur on May 21, 2011, was a meme invented by 4chan just to give the Webbernets something to snark about.

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The end of the world is nothing new. Doomsayers have been with us since we were still drawing on the walls of caves with burnt sticks. Judgment Day has come and gone a dozen times in the last century. The only reason the rapture became a national (non)event was the Internet. And that wasn't because of the people who believed they were entering the high-occupancy lane to heaven; it was due almost entirely to the folks who delighted in ridiculing them.

(Yes, I was among them. My ticket to the underworld got stamped a long time ago. See you in Hell.)

For much of last week, roughly half of Google's top 20 trending topics were related to the rapture, Judgment Day, and/or Family Radio's Harold Camping.

On May 21, the snarking masses posted hundreds of "rapturebomb" photos on the Web -– pictures of benighted souls being taken up to heaven sans clothing while riding motorcycles, cleaning pools, doing yoga, dressing up as Star Wars storm troopers, or sitting on the toilet.

On Twitter, people using the hashtag #endoftheworldconfessions began admitting their sins ahead of time, hoping to clear their records before being hoovered into heaven. Among the confessions: "It was me, I let the dogs out," "Sorry mom/dad, it was me who took the money from your purse," and "You really do look fat in those jeans. There, I said it."

The post nonrapture gloating has also begun. The eSarcastics suggested that God intended to hold the rapture last Saturday but a bug in Microsoft Outlook erased it from His calendar.

It was even fodder for Net commerce. Today Match.com is running a promoted tweet (i.e., an ad) playing off the event: "Still here after the Rapture? Maybe it's time to sign up for Match.com after all."

This kind of thing makes it appear as if the Internet is one big playground where the mean kids can gang up on the weak and defenseless. On the other hand, the Judgment Dayers brought this upon themselves by being so damned sanctimonious about it.

(Yes, I know "damned sanctimonious" is an oxymoron. Did I not mention I was already bound for Hades?)

If the Family Radio faithful had reacted in a lighthearted way to their critics ("we're going to heaven and you're not, we hope you've got some 50,000 SPF sunblock"), the mass ridicule would not have been nearly so fun to perpetuate. People who make themselves easy targets should expect to spend some time picking spitballs out of their hair and pulling "kick me" signs off their backs. I'm just sayin'.

Not to worry, though. I'm sure they'll regroup and start preparing for the next Armageddon, whenever that may be -- because one thing we know for sure is that one day the sun will explode and obliterate everything in the neighborhood.

Doomsday is coming. We just don't know when. But if I get any inside intel on that score you'll be the first to know.

Where were you when the rapture didn't happen? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Wrapping up the rapture," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringeley's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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