If you read a lot of post-Apocalyptic literature, and watch your fair share of dystopian films (How else are you going to figure out what to do when the zombie plague hits?), you’ve come across this major theme: post-Apocalypse, we’re apparently all going to eat each other.
We eat each other in Soylent Green. We eat each other in Cloud Atlas. We SUPER eat each other in The Road, if we’re the bad guys and don’t have the fire. We even kind of eat each other in The Hunger Games (although admittedly it only happened once).
Here’s the thing, though: after society collapses, I really need us to not actually eat each other and avoid that whole “cannibalism” thing, okay?
Mostly I don’t want us to practice cannibalism because it’s freaky and nasty, and I don’t need another freaky and nasty thing to worry about (and no, you don’t get to ask me what other freaky and nasty things I already worry about), but also, if you eat another person, even if you cook that person, you will also consume some of their prions, and those prions will mutate the proteins in your brain, says Andy Ellington, a wonderfully anti-cannibalistic scientist at the University of Texas.
Mutated proteins in your brain will kill you, but first they’ll make you crazy–not the good kind of crazy, where you maybe have an interesting bottle caps collection and you film a LOT of home videos of your cats (no judgment–I’ve just described myself), but the bad kind of crazy. Like, shouldn’t be allowed near sharp objects crazy. “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” crazy. Actual freaking prion-induced holes in your brain crazy.
You know what’s not helpful in a survival situation? Going crazy, and then dying from holes in your brain.
And that’s why nobody gets to eat anybody. Don’t eat someone even if that person dies first and you’re really, really hungry. Don’t eat someone if you’re really, really hungry and that person starts to look like a walking and talking corn dog on a stick. Don’t eat someone even if they tell you to (True story: another mom in the homeschool playgroup that I take my kids to on Thursday afternoons actually told me that her Disaster Preparedness Plan involves her telling her husband to shoot her and feed her to himself and the kids. This is about the standard level of weirdness for my conversations with other people at this particular playgroup).
If you get tempted, just remember: You will go crazy, and then you will die.