Doomsday 2012: How The Internet Propagated A Fantastical Apocalypse
While there has been no shortage of doomsday prophecies and end of the world predictions throughout history, it is likely that the Internet Age can be blamed for a good number of the apocalyptic prophecies that have taken a stronghold in society. In fact, many prophecies of the end of times would likely not have been popularized without the help of the cyber community.
One such doomsday prophecy popularized by the Internet surrounds that of a fictitious planet called Nibiru (or Planet X) that is believed to be hurtling out of control towards Earth. This prophecy began its life in 1995 when Nancy Lieder, founder of the website ZetaTalk, stated that she was in contact with extra-terrestrials from the Zeta Reticuli star system, which instructed her to warn mankind of the impending doom.
Lieder said that this celestial object would sweep through the inner solar system in May 2003 causing the Earth to undergo a catastrophic pole shift, destroying most of humanity. While Lieder later abandoned that date, her predictions soon grew beyond the constraints of her website, taking hold among several Internet doomsday groups, most of which have linked the event to the 2012 Doomsday scenario.
While Nibiru is typically associated with the works of ancient astronaut writer Zecharia Sitchin (1920-2010), who explained Nibiru as a small planet beyond Neptune where an extra-terrestrial race known as the Anunnaki lived (ca. 1976), Lieder claims Planet X hails from outside our solar system—from Zeta Reticuli.
For Sitchin’s part, he maintained that his works have never had any connection to prophecies tied to a coming apocalypse.
Wisconsin-born Lieder said that as a girl she was contacted by extra-terrestrials called Zetas, who implanted a device into her brain that they could use to communicate with her. In 1995, Lieder founded ZetaTalk to share with the world her knowledge of the coming apocalypse. But it wasn’t until a few years later, during Comet Hale-Bopp’s perihelion in 1997, that Lieder and her claims had become publicly known.
At the time Hale-Bopp had become more familiar to the world, Lieder spoke out. She claimed that Hale-Bopp was a figment of our imagination and was a story manufactured to distract people from the imminent arrival of the large planetary visitor that would soon destroy civilization. Her claims, which made it into the New York Times, were later retracted as Hale-Bopp proved to be real, and was one of the brightest and longest-observed comets of the last century.
Though she retracted her statement regarding Hale-Bopp, Lieder maintained that Planet X (often correlated with the Nibiru cataclysm) was still on a path that would take it dangerously close to Earth. She said Planet X, which is roughly four times the size of Earth, will make its closest approach on May 27, 2003, resulting in destabilization of the Earth’s rotation for at least 5.9 days. A polar shift would occur, disrupting the Earth’s magnetic core and lead to subsequent displacement of Earth’s crust and polar reversal. This would prove catastrophic and would destroy much of life on Earth.
The prophecy gained further attention in 2001, when Mark Hazelwood, a former member of Lieder’s ZetaTalk community, published a book titled Blindsided: Planet X Passes in 2003. As 2003 approached, several prophetic movements took it upon themselves to heed the warnings, included one Japanese cult, that barricaded itself with white cloths to protect from electromagnetic forces.
As the 27th of May, 2003 approached, Lieder appeared on air in Los Angeles, advising listeners to euthanize their pets in anticipation of the event. When asked if she had done so herself, she confirmed she had. But after the 27th passed without incident, Lieder claimed she had fabricated the date, and said there was no timeline she could give for when the event would take place.
While the 2003 event never came to fruition, many Internet sites continue to forecast Planet X is on a collision course with Earth, with most citing December 21, 2012 as that arrival date. Of course, this date has been linked to several theories about the coming apocalypse, most in regards to ancient Mayan myths and the end cycle of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, or the b’ak’tun. Several authors have published books and works connecting the Mayan calendar to the end of the world in 2012.
As for Planet X, even if it were on a path that would take it near Earth on December 21, 2012, it would be brightly noticeable in the sky by now. Of course Planet X would have to be a real planet to begin with if it were to make such an impact. Currently, experts say that there is no Planet X or Nibiru out there that are going effect Earth anytime soon, if ever.
But many believers have accused NASA and other experts of deliberately covering up visual evidence of Planet X’s existence. One accusation involves detection of a possible planetary body in the outer solar system by the IRAS space observatory, launched in 1983. That body was described as a large Jupiter-like planet that was so close to Earth that it would be part of this solar system. This discovery has been cited by Lieder as evidence of the existence of Nibiru/Planet X.
But further investigation proved that the anomalous object, along with several others, were in fact distant galaxies and not solar system bodies of any kind.
Another accusation derivative of the Internet claims that the US government built a telescope (the South Pole Telescope) to track Nibiru’s trajectory, and that the object has been imaged by astronomers. However, the SPT is a radio telescope and cannot take optical images. And an image of the supposed Nibiru posted on a YouTube page, has been debunked as a Hubble image from a distant star system.
Several other conspiracies abound that NASA, the US government, and other science experts are covering up the truth about Planet X. And several Internet sites are still maintaining that the Earth will be destroyed on December 21, 2012 when this rogue invader crashes the party.
It is hard to imagine how such doomsday prophecies would play out if it weren’t for the omnipresence of the Internet. It is likely that the vast majority of us would never have known about Nibiru or Planet X if this scenario was played out more than 20 years ago. The Internet has been a great resource tool for society, but at the same time, it has been a harbinger of doom and can likely be attributed to a mass of growing fears of a coming apocalypse—an apocalypse that most will say, goes far beyond the Age of the Internet.
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