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Disasters, Social Media Fuel "End Of World" Talk

As the world watches the events unfold in Japan, the internet is lighting up with comments that these disasters are signs that the world is ending...talk being fueled even more by the times were living in.

News updates, thoughts, prayers and relief are pouring in on websites like Facebook and Twitter. But some see more than just suffering. They say this and other major disasters may mean the end of the world is near. Tiara Powell says, " With all the stuff that's happening, through all the tsunamis and earthquakes, I think it is getting close."

Calvin Mercer is an associate professor of religious studies at East Carolina University. He says this apocalyptic thinking is not new. It's the real-time access to events that gives "end of days" thinking a global, real-time audience. "Social media, I do think, changes everything. These images are more in our face. And so people maybe are responding more quickly and maybe there's more opportunity for the circulation of of these apocalyptic scenarios."

Margaret Ann Stubblefield says she was sitting in class at ECU when someone handed her their phone with a Twitter message finding eerie similarities among recent tragedies and the number 11 and a bible verse.

Mercer says throughout history groups have made claims only to be discredited when doomsday dates come and go. But he says the internet brings a new twist to the millenia old thinking.

The next big date on many people's radar is December 21, 2012. That's apparantly the last day recorded on the Mayan civilization's long count calendar. Many of the Twitter posts make reference to that date because the digits in 12-21-2012 add up to 11. Of course that date has its share of believers and skeptics.


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