Anyone with a hint of the doomer in them has an image of what collapse looks like. Maybe we've seen too many movies or read too much Science Fiction. We expect things to happen in a dramatic fashion: "Red Dawn" type revolt, asteroids from space, nuclear attack, heck might as well throw in zombies while we are at it. Maybe we picture ourselves heroically defending our families, AK in hand, at our wilderness bunker. It's great fiction.
The reality has turned out to be pretty shabby. The economy struggles along in fits and starts. People are leery about eating oil seafood from the Gulf, radioactive fish from the Pacific, and a good chunk of US farmland is flooded. If you live in Japan, the disasters are only one Godzilla short of a disaster movie, but for the rest of us, it's far away. Tornadoes have been bad, but concentrate a lot of damage on a relatively small area. This spring's floods are a disaster for many people, but it's a slow moving disaster.
For most of us, the collapse looks like plunging housing prices, no raises, diminished buying power, driving older and older cars, (maybe getting your nice one repossessed). You aren't fighting off the Golden Horde. No, you've got to worry about some unemployed guy breaking into your parked car. Collapse looks like a benefit dance for a mother of five with no health insurance who needs a kidney. It looks like food stamps and the very last unemployment check. It's all kinda sad and depressing.
It's also uneven -unfair, if you'd like. Plenty of people are sipping champagne on their yachts, while you can't afford to sit on the tailgate of your truck and sip a good beer. There's a slow grinding down for a lot of people, but not everyone. Should you happen to be in Japan, or in a tornado's path, or flooded out of your home, the disaster collapse is dramatic enough. We see the collapse is here, but not evenly distributed.
If we were all in the same boat, there might be more of a feeling of pulling together through hard times. It happened in the great depression and WWII, but I don't get much sense of that yet. People seem to be stumbling around, not even sure exactly what's happening or where to place the blame.
Poor shabby excuse for a collapse.