Will it all end this Friday?
Voice in the Eagle Rock Wilderness
by Christopher Nyerges
How TV Distorts Reality
[Nyerges is the author of “How to Survive Anywhere,” “Self-Sufficient Home,” and other
books, available at bookstores, or www.ChristopherNyerges.com. He can also be reached
at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041]
In mid-December, I got a call from a popular TV “news magazine” show. I was told that
they were planning to air a program the following day about the December 21, 2012 end
date of the Mayan calendar cycle. They were aware that I teach survival skills and they saw
my name associated with the Mayan date.
“We’d like to talk to you about the Mayan prophecies,” I was informed.
“Which Mayan prophecies are you referring to?” I asked.
“You know, the end of the world prophecies,” she casually responded.
“I’d be happy to talk to your viewers about the Mayan calendar,” I said, “and I’d let
them know that there are no Mayan prophecies of doom-and-gloom that anyone
knowledgeable is aware of.” I explained that I studied in Mexico and Guatemala with
Mayans. “Are you aware of specific prophecies?” I asked.
“No, just in general that the world is going to end.”
I explained that all the Mayan end-of-the-world hype was media fabrication. What would be
happening on December 21, according to most scholars, is that a large cycle of the Mayan
calendar – 13 Baktuns lasting 5,125 years – will end, and another cycle will begin the next
day. I told her that I’d be happy to ease her viewers’ fears, and explain that zealous media
pundits somehow confused “end of a calendar cycle” with “end of the world.”
The TV show representative explained that she’d seen me on the National Geographic’s
“Doomsday Preppers” show, and said she’d really like to see me with my survival gear. (I was
offered no compensation for the time I expected to give.) I explained that I was driving to
work (yes, I do work!) and that I only had the minimal gear that I always carry, but not my full
“I’d still be happy to share with your viewers how knowing survival skills is a good thing all the
time,” I continued, “considering all the very real problems that we all have to contend with,
such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, economic disasters, terrorists, diseases, and so on.”
“Actually, we’re really looking for someone who is seriously preparing for the December 21st
date. We really want something more dramatic and sensational,” I was told.
It was becoming clear that I would not be on their show.
“Well, if you’re looking for a nut who’s frightened about the Mayan calendar and who is
taking radical action based on panic and fear, then I’m not your man,” I told her. “Still, I’d
be happy to talk to you to give your show some balance.” I continued, telling her that there
is no special planetary alignment associated with December 21, no comet that we know of
that’s about to hit the earth, no mysterious planet about to show up, and no heightened sun
spot activity. I again explained that we never really know what might happen, but we
shouldn’t listen to the fear stories about things that have no relation to the Mayan calendar.
She politely listened.
“I tell people that whenever you act out of fear or panic that you nearly always make bad
choices,” I added.
“Yes, well, we really want something more dramatic. We want to show people who are very
concerned about this December 21 date and who are doing something about it.” She told
me she would talk to her producers and might call me back for a taping later in the day for
a show that was already planned for the following day.
To no surprise, I never got a return call.
This taught me a lesson I’d experienced many times. The modern media are all too often so
focused on ratings and sensationalism that they will twist and distort (or ignore) the facts if this
helps maintain viewers. Though many of us might view the “quest for truth” to be a high
ideal, not everyone does. In this case, it was clear that the producers of this TV program
were not concerned about whether or not there were in fact any Mayan “prophecies” at all.
It is not just distortion and lies that we should protect ourselves against. We also need to be
equally concerned about that the reporters and journalists do not tell us.
Sadly, TV, despite its vast potential, has increasingly become a wasteland.