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Doomer and, by extension, doomerism are terms which arose primarily on the Internet to describe people who are extremely pessimistic or fatalistic about global problems such as overpopulation, peak oil, climate change, pollution, nuclear weapons, and runaway artificial intelligence. Some doomers assert there is a possibility these problems will bring about human extinction.[1][2]

Malthusians like Paul R. Ehrlich, Guy McPherson and Michael Ruppert have related doomerism to Malthusianism, an economic philosophy holding that human resource use will eventually exceed resource availability, leading to societal collapse, social unrest or population decline.[3][4]


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.[5]

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 having children.[5] 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."[5]

Internet meme[edit]

By 2018, 4chan users had begun creating Wojak caricatures with the -oomer suffix, derived from "boomer", to mock various groups online. One of these caricatures was "Doomers", 20-somethings who had "simply stopped trying".[6] The meme first appeared on 4chan's /r9k/ board in September 2018.[6] The image typically depicts the Wojak character in dark clothing, including a dark beanie, smoking a cigarette. "Doomer" themed playlists, featuring this wojak along with slowed down music edits (often involving post-punk or rock) reached popularity on YouTube, especially during the Covid-19 lockdowns. 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.[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."[6]

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.[6] 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.[6][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]

Michael Mann has also listed David Wallace Wells's framing of the climate crisis, which he presents in "The Uninhabitable Earth" and The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, as being among "the prominent doomist narratives."[12]

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".[13]

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.[14]

Music has been made to depict the overall feel of the Doomer mindset and/or its alternative Bloomer. British musician, DJ, producer, and YouTuber Akira the Don has produced various Doomer to Bloomer playlists using remixed speeches/talks of various famous and/or intellectual figures.[15] Another example would be of Russian Doomer music. For instance, post-punk Russian playlists created by YouTuber JustMyFavStrangeMusic.[16]


A 2021 survey of 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 from the UK, Australia, USA, India, Philippines, Nigeria, France, Finland, Portugal and Brazil asked whether participants agreed with the statement "humanity is doomed." 55.7% answered yes, 40.7% answered no, and 3.7% preferred not to state. 45% of participants also indicated that climate anxiety was impacting their day-to-day functioning.[17]


Alternatives to doomerism include radical hope and solarpunk, which reject the hopeless view of the future.[18][19] Solarpunk rejects the tropes of doomerist media present in television shows like Black Mirror and The Handmaid's Tale by instead imagining and working toward a sustainable future where climate change, income inequality, and discrimination have been overcome.[20] Within internet circles where the Doomer is present, the opposite character is the Bloomer. Depicted as a smiling and hopeful Wojak, with a positive outlook on life. Unlike the Doomer, the Bloomer rejects nihilism and remains optimistic about the future, often pursuing deeper meaning in life.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind". BBC News. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  2. ^ ""Humans will be extinct by 2026" – doom-and-gloom prophet Professor Guy McPherson on abrupt climate change". 20 January 2023. Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  3. ^ "Only 2020 could bring us words like these". Grist. 28 December 2020. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020.
  4. ^ 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.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)[page needed]
  5. ^ a b c White, Patrick (7 March 2008). "Life after the oil crash". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 5 January 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e Tiffany, Kaitlyn (3 February 2020). "The Misogynistic Joke That Became a Goth-Meme Fairy Tale". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 4 June 2020.
  7. ^ Keating, Shannon (11 September 2019). "Against Nihilism". BuzzFeed News. Archived from the original on 4 June 2020.
  8. ^ a b Martinez, Ignacio (7 January 2020). "Meet 'Doomer Girl,' the new voice of a classic meme". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on 4 June 2020.
  9. ^ Purtill, James (7 November 2019). "Breaking up over climate change: My deep dark journey into doomer Facebook". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 4 March 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Hunter, Jack (16 March 2020). "The 'climate doomers' preparing for society to fall apart". BBC News. Archived from the original on 11 January 2021.
  11. ^ Nicholas, Thomas; Hall, Galen; Schmidt, Colleen (14 July 2020). "The faulty science, doomism, and flawed conclusions of Deep Adaptation". OpenDemocracy. Archived from the original on 26 January 2021.
  12. ^ Watts, Jonathan (27 February 2021). "Climatologist Michael E Mann: 'Good people fall victim to doomism. I do too sometimes'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022.
  13. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 25 January 2021.
  14. ^ Knibbs, Kate (17 February 2020). "The Hottest New Literary Genre Is 'Doomer Lit'". Wired. Archived from the original on 4 June 2020.
  15. ^ Narkiewicz, Adam. "DOOMER TO BLOOMER". Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  16. ^ StrangeMusic, JustMyFav. "Russian Doomer music vol.8". Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  17. ^ Hickman, Caroline; Marks, Elizabeth; Pihkala, Panu; Clayton, Susan; Lewandowski, R. Eric; Mayall, Elouise E.; Wray, Britt; Mellor, Catriona; van Susteren, Lise (2021). "Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey". The Lancet Planetary Health. 5 (12): e863–e873. doi:10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00278-3. ISSN 2542-5196. PMID 34895496.
  18. ^ Rojas Solorio, Luis Gerardo (8 July 2022). "Embrace students' eco-anxiety to spur critical and systemic climate action". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 18 October 2022. Teaching students about concepts worth striving for – such as radical hope or solarpunk – can prompt them to think of solutions to problems rather than feeling indifference or helplessness.
  19. ^ BrightFlame (20 January 2022). "Towards Solarpunk Futures". Center for Sustainable Futures; Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  20. ^ Houser, Kristin (5 December 2020). "What does a solarpunk future look like?". Freethink. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  21. ^ Writes, Kal (October 2020). "How to Move From Doomer to Bloomer". Retrieved 28 June 2023.

External links[edit]

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