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"Doomer" and "doomerism" are terms which arose primarily on the internet to describe people worried about global problems such as overpopulation, peak oil, climate change, and pollution. Some doomers assert there is a possibility these problems will bring about human extinction.[1][better source needed]

Some[who?] have described doomerism as a 21st century versions of Malthusianism, an economic philosophy holding that human resource use will eventually exceed resource availability, leading to societal collapse.[2][3]


Peaknik subculture[edit]

The term "doomer" was reported in 2008 as being used in early internet peaknik communities, as on internet forums where members discussed the theorized point in time when oil extraction would stop due to lack of resources, followed by societal collapse. Doomers of the mid-aughts subscribed to various ideas on how to face this impending collapse, including doomsday prepping, as well as more contemporary feelings of resignation and defeat.[4]

Canadian self-identified doomer Paul Chefurka hosted a website where he encouraged his readers to eat lower on the food chain, modify their homes for the apocalypse, and to consider not to bring children into the world.[4] Not all "peakniks" subscribed to a fatalist outlook. U.S. Army Ranger Chris Lisle, when writing recommendations on how to survive the societal collapse, suggested that his fellow doomers "adopt a positive attitude," because, as he put it, "Hard times don't last, hard people do."[4]

Internet meme[edit]

The "Doomer" Wojak

By 2018, 4chan users had begun creating Wojak caricatures with the -oomer suffix to mock various groups online. One of these caricatures was "Doomers", 20-somethings who had "simply stopped trying".[5] The meme first appeared on 4chan's /r9k/ board in September 2018.[5] The image typically depicts the Wojak character in a beanie, smoking a cigarette. The archetype often embodies nihilism and despair, with a belief in the incipient end of the world to causes ranging from climate apocalypse to peak oil to (more locally) opioid addiction.[1][6][7] Kaitlyn Tiffany writes in The Atlantic that the doomer meme depicts young men who "are no longer pursuing friendships or relationships, and get no joy from anything because they know that the world is coming to an end."[5]

A related meme format, "doomer girl", began appearing on 4chan in January 2020, and it soon moved to other online communities, including Reddit, Twitter, and Tumblr, often by women claiming it from its 4chan origins.[5] This format is described by The Atlantic as "a quickly sketched cartoon woman with black hair, black clothes, and sad eyes ringed with red makeup". The doomer girl character often appears in image macros interacting with the original doomer character.[5][8] The format is often compared to rage comics.[8]

In media[edit]

The term "doomer" was popularized in commentary surrounding Jonathan Franzen's 2019 essay in The New Yorker titled "What if We Stopped Pretending?". The piece made an argument against the possibility of averting climatic catastrophe. In addition to popularizing the term among general audiences, Franzen's piece was highly popular among online Doomer communities, including the Facebook groups Near Term human Extinction Support Group and Abrupt Climate Change.[9]

The BBC describes sustainability professor Jem Bendell's self-published paper Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy as "the closest thing to a manifesto for a generation of self-described 'climate doomers'".[10] As of March 2020, the paper had been downloaded more than a half million times. In it, Bendell claims there is no chance to avert a near-term breakdown in human civilization, but that people must instead prepare to live with and prepare for the effects of climate change.[10]

Climate scientist Michael E. Mann described Bendell's paper as "pseudo-scientific nonsense", saying Bendell's "doomist framing" was a "dangerous new strain of crypto-denialism" that would "lead us down the very same path of inaction as outright climate change denial".[10] An essay published on OpenDemocracy argues that the paper is an example of "climate doomism" that "relies heavily on misinterpreted climate science".[11]

Uncivilization: The Dark Mountain Manifesto, published in 2009 by Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine to signal the beginning of the artists' group the Dark Mountain Project, critiques the idea of progress. According to The New York Times, critics called Kingsnorth and his sympathizers "doomers", "nihilists", and "crazy collapsitarians".[12]

Kate Knibbs, writing in Wired, described the development of a popular and growing strain of "doomer" climate fiction, in contrast to the typically optimistic undertones of the genre. Amy Brady, a climate fiction columnist for the Chicago Review of Books, says the genre has moved from future scenarios to near-past and present stories.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Read, Max (1 August 2019). "Is Andrew Yang the Doomer Candidate?". Intelligencer. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Only 2020 could bring us words like these". Grist. 28 December 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  3. ^ Holmgren, David (2009). Future scenarios : how communities can adapt to peak oil and climate change. White River Junction, Vermont. ISBN 978-1-60358-206-3. OCLC 1021809104.[page needed]
  4. ^ a b c White, Patrick (7 March 2008). "Life after the oil crash". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.
  5. ^ a b c d e Tiffany, Kaitlyn (3 February 2020). "The Misogynistic Joke That Became a Goth-Meme Fairy Tale". The Atlantic.
  6. ^ a b Knibbs, Kate (17 February 2020). "The Hottest New Literary Genre Is 'Doomer Lit'". Wired. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  7. ^ Keating, Shannon (11 September 2019). "Against Nihilism". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  8. ^ a b Martinez, Ignacio (7 January 2020). "Meet 'Doomer Girl,' the new voice of a classic meme". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  9. ^ Purtill, James (7 November 2019). "Breaking up over climate change: My deep dark journey into doomer Facebook". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Hunter, Jack (16 March 2020). "The 'climate doomers' preparing for society to fall apart". BBC News. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  11. ^ Nicholas, Thomas; Hall, Galen; Schmidt, Colleen (14 July 2020). "The faulty science, doomism, and flawed conclusions of Deep Adaptation". OpenDemocracy. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  12. ^ Smith, Daniel (20 April 2014). "It's the End of the World as We Know It . . . and He Feels Fine". The New York Times Magazine. pp. 28–33, 46–47. ISSN 0028-7822. Retrieved 22 April 2020.

External links[edit]

  • Doomsters(sic) – A journal article discussing peak oil and "Doomsters"