The perils of listening to prophets in the internet or maybe not

June 27, 2014

In the Hollywood blockbuster, the postman. A nuclear war wipes out all of civilization and society has returned back to the age of barter and the warlord. The main protagonist Kevin Costner discovers a postman uniform in a cave with a few letters, yet to be delivered. So he goes around from one gated community to another claiming the postal service has been restored along with spinning a yarn that a new United States administration is currently the newly restored de facto government. Soon an impromptu postal service comes into being staffed mainly by youths under a fictitious executive order.

Some fifteen or twenty years back ago in Singapore when the internet was still in its prototypal IRC baby puking stage when chatrooms ruled the digital sphere – I ran a private forum called bunkerworld. The forumers in Bunkerworld were mostly undergrad geeks and it was platform that I used to sell blue mountain instant coffee – we all believed that a day would come when a zombie plague would sweep planet earth and all civilization would descend into a feral man eat man dystopian Will Smith, I am Legend cityscape. (This was way before the movie came out. This only goes to show that my script writing talents were definitely wasted in Singapore).

Since I was the man who ran Bunkerworld. I would regularly post survivalist write ups on how to make a meal out of your old army boots, eat your pet dog, make a post apocalyptic hand bag out of the dead iguana…those sort of off the wall articles that no one really bothers to read unless they find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly living in post nuclear war society. For most of the time, the forumers in Bunkerworld would occupy themselves by chatting about how to turn your urine into potable water, how to survive on canned beans for six months without turning green. The forum had just the right cinematic mix of mystery and even a clandestine spy feel to it to hold an eclectic audience and since most of them were pimply geeks who probably just spent most of their time in rooms where clothes and pizza go to die – most of them saw me as a mysterious James Bond archetypal he man who used to jump out of airplanes, rappel thru the air and do all sorts of dangerous stuff that they could only dream of doing (fortunately no one got around to asking why would a secret agent who leads an international life of mystery and intrigue need to subsidize his salary by selling coffee online. In those days netizens actually respected the privacy of others even if they didn’t deserve it.)- the combination of these cinematic overtures in Bunkerworld coupled with the off beat survivalist lifestyle just managed to keep everyone riveted to their chairs and create just the right buzz needed to sustain a small online community.

One day I decided it was time to shut down Bunkerworld. At that time, I just thought to myself this whole idea of prepping wasn’t making much sense in Singapore – as bird flu didn’t turn out to be so bad after all. The nearest we all ever got to a global extinction event was SARS and the tsunami. Even that wasn’t any where near the end of the world dooms day scenario that we commonly discussed in Bunkerworld.

Before I shut down the forum, I told the forumers that as their leader I expect every man to dedicate their lives to earning as much money as possible and rising to the highest position in their respective vocations. As that’s the best way to guarantee survival in an uncertain world – true to the spirit of chupatz in Bunkerworld, I signed off my last message with the cryptic words, we shall met again somewhere….sometime….in the distant future…some where in the underground.

Fast forward to present day and I’ve been coming across smiling strangers who I hardly know giving me the secret Bunkerworld handshake and wink – the way I see it the kids who used to hero worship me then have all grown up, got married and some of them have even managed to rise so high in their respective vocational fields they are now multi millionaires who can even afford to build their own private dream bunkers complete with bowling alley cum James Bond helipad.

What I didn’t count on was Bunkerworld did not actually just die off and disappear into oblivion – many of the forumers continued underground and in secret as they believed my cryptic farewell was some secret coded message (presumably like the Da Vinci code) to press on – apparently my farewell message was riven with so many spelling mistakes and a reoccurring uppercase ‘A’ and ‘J’ that a code breaking cell in Bunkerworld began to see it as confirmation of a hidden message. (if only they all knew the keys on my china made clone Apple keyboard was permanently stuck in uppercase for those two letters). To cut a very long story short…. today what was once just a casual hang out for geeks in one obscure corner of the net has morphed into full scale reality….air scrubbing filtration….automatic hydraulic doors….freeze dried food etc etc etc.

I am just a tad uncomfortable today about settling into the idea of being regarded as the founding father and going to dinners where everyone takes the kooky Bunkerworld culture so seriously that I am even expected to give a speech….the ultimate irony is even if I told those bunkerheads the real story….no one would ever believe me….they would all probably give me that cosy inderism look of complicity and say, ‘this is another test right?’ But for what’s its worth. I am glad to see many of those pimply kids have made something out of their lives – at least they took and ran with one advise that I once gave them all – never work for anyone, be your own boss! Be big! Because bunkers cost millions….on that, they all certainly did not disappoint, so I am happy it all turned out well.

Bunker on lah!


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