'Zombie apocalypse’ trending as bad news spreads quickly
The victim and the body of the assailant in Miami's face-eating attack lie on a sidewalk last Saturday.
June 1st, 2012
11:28 AM ET

'Zombie apocalypse’ trending as bad news spreads quickly

The term "zombie apocalypse" has been lighting up the internet all week and has been among the top Google trends Friday morning.

On the Web's Urban Dictionary, here's definition No. 4 of zombie apocalypse: "The End of the World, when people who have died rise again in rotten corpses searching for blood and brains to strengthen them."

While we're certain the dead are not rising, the past week has seen some of the most disturbing instances of human behavior imaginable.

Overheard on CNN.com: Are we all 'zombies'?

A man in Miami happens upon a homeless man on the sidewalk and chews off 75% of his face in an 18-minute attack. The attacker's mother later says her son is not a zombie as portrayed in the media.

Authorities in Canada have launched a massive manhunt for a suspect after a severed hand was sent to Canada's Liberal Party, a foot to the Conservatives and a torso was stuffed in a suitcase and tossed in the trash of the Montreal apartment building where he lived.

A Maryland man admits to killing his housemate, cutting him up, then eating his heart and part of his brain.

A New Jersey man rips his torso open and throws bits of his intestines at police, according to the Bergen Record.

There have been other equally grisly crimes, but there's no need to dwell on them.

Fact is, horrible crimes happen all the time.

"This is all nothing new," said Scott Talan, professor of public communication at American University, with a long work history in public relations and the media.

Bad news attracts attention, he said, and when it happens in bunches, people like to attach a name to it, hence, "zombie apocalypse."

People also like to see others in bigger trouble than they have themselves, Talan said.

"No matter how your life's going, someone's got it worse," he said.

We like to think, "I'm better off than these people," he said.

And that's nothing new, Talan said, pointing out that ancient Roman philosophers used to lament that citizens felt little for the gladiators and what happened in their gruesome contests.

But he said while these stories catch fire quickly in our wired world, they flame out quickly, too.

Unless there's another gruesome crime today, expect the zombie apocalypse to be done by next week, he said.

Even if that's the case, there may be some good that can come of the attention zombie apocalypse has drawn on the Web.

A year ago, when zombie movies were the rage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said if it could convince the public to prepare for the zombie apocalypse, maybe they'd be better prepared for disasters more likely to affect their lives, like earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes, or a major pandemic.

Or maybe the Mayan apocalypse. Talan points out that it isn't real, it's just a name like zombie apocalypse.

But then again, that isn't supposed to happen until December. There's still time for that to go viral again.

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Filed under: Crime • Media
soundoff (515 Responses)
  1. MarcNJ

    "Unless there's another gruesome crime today, expect the zombie apocalypse to be done by next week, he said." now he did it!

    June 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. conradshull

    Zombies, Vampires! Arrgh! I am so tired of this pop culture pablum. I wish they would both just hurry up and die...uh...wait.

    June 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. observer

    Everyone knows that underneath this secret conspiracy of irrelevant "news" the TRUTH is that it's Jesus' fault Obama will get re-elected this fall.

    Zombies 2012!
    Make America raaaarrrrrrrghhh...

    June 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    Did they really use Urban Dictionary as a citation in this article? Granted, claiming these crazy people and drugged out idiots are "zombies" is ridiculous enough..

    June 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. phaque2

    The trending term should technically be "cannibalism." That is what appears to be on the rise. The Zombie Apocolypse has been trending for decades, recently popularized by the "Walking Dead" series on TV.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alby

    The fact there are similar cases back to back makes the situation more terrifying and disturbing. All of this happening in almost alike time frames IDK what to think at this point. Not only that but who knows maybe there's more to these reports and we not know about.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • diego homans

      I'm pretty sure that you're operating on a statistical fallacy. (Thank god!)

      These incidents occurring close to one another in time are not likely to represent a deviation from the expected norm.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. William miller

    Each of us is effected to some extent by every experience we have, some more than most. For the normal mind to dismiss this effect, the effect must be taken out of context not all minds are normal! Not all responses will be the same to experience, our children have grown accustomed to intertainment generated in the minds of those who's interests reside in places other than the welfare of our children. We see this intertainment as a foray into imagination, our children see it as reality, they have little to compair it too. They have no understanding the events and images they witness are impossible in the real world. The conficts they witness are superficial and the resolutions, ussually a bullet ridden body are just sterile props easily forgotten by the hero and ignored by his adoring cohorts.
    When we tell the gruesome stories of reality like the deaths of students at some university,the gang violence in our cities, and maybe even canabalism, we must consider some will see this as their opportunity to be the person of interest.
    The news medium perpetuates this in my opinion by not doing the follow up on the true consequences, by not visiting the perpetrators in the reality of there existence after the fact, by not visiting the victims families, by not telling the story over the long run we run the risk of making these people useless props in the reality of life! Revisting these events over time may not feel comfortable, but that's the point, we should never become comfortable with such things.
    We shouldn't offer to those prone to the imaginations based on imaginations the incentive to participate in reality.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • BethTX

      I like pancakes.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Linda

    the "Zombie" part came from not only the guy in Miami eating the homeless guy, but for the fact that he had to be shot multiple times to go down!

    June 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zombie Hunter

      He was shot multiple times because the ignorant cop didn't get the requiem head shot on the first try. You'd think by now that people would know this much: to kill the walking dead, you must inflict a heavy blow or gunshot to the skull!

      June 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      police use 9 mm, in the past these have been notoriously weak against criminals on drugs, specifically bath salts or a hallucinogen such as LSD. Had the cop used a .45, it would have been a different story

      June 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • diego homans

      Zombie Hunter and Justin–
      We're not surprised he lived! Rather, that he kept chewing.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. William

    Now this is something interesting.... we make a huge deal out of drugdealers killing each other in gruesome ways in Mexico with no civilian casualties, while these things that are happening in the US and they say "There have been other equally grisly crimes, but there's no need to dwell on them." I am sorry but I will not be walking in the streets of miami in broad daylight, I rather spend some vacation time in Mexico

    June 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • across12

      Neah, go to Iraq for vacation, awesome place to rest your mind dude.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Temporary Incan Warrior

    "While we're certain the dead are not rising"

    Are you? Are you absolutely certain? PROVE IT.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dos Ruedas

    You're totally serious.....woah.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dos Ruedas

    If I were a zombie hot chicks would have to watch in horror as I worked my way up the middle.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. William miller

    Please forgive my mispellings, the consequences of a mind far removed from written conversation. But I believe you can see the point in my previous comment, by evaluating the content of this thread.
    Thank You for your time.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Disgruntled_girl

    The "zombie" thing is only "lighting up the internet" because the media know that the word zombie – which is a Noun – sells things as compared to Cannibalism, which is a verb.
    These people are not zombies – which are undead people – but committing cannibalism.

    In other news : these all took place within 4 day of each other on the East Coast – for anyone keeping track or needs a new game plot.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      Cannibalism is a noun.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • diego homans

      Oh my god, Disgruntled_girl thinks "cannibalism" is a verb. You know, the coming generations will never replace us.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MobiusEight

    Wait for it... You ain't seen nothin' yet. *Tinfoil hat and shotgun*

    June 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
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