Uncle, what was it like with COVID-19?My nephew, 2038
I won’t talk about COVID-19 numbers, or the government’s official response, nor will I talk about other things you can already find in the news. What I will cover here is my personal experience that has been affected by COVID-19.
COVID-19 started affecting my life around mid-March, 2020. My employer required us to start working from home, to which I enthusiastically complied as the outlook was beginning to look foreboding. Getting used to working from home was much easier than I expected, as I had previous experience working from home and already had a productive setup.
Before COVID-19, I usually kept very few groceries in the house and mostly ate at restaurants during lunch with coworkers. In the beginning it was the scariest, with toilet paper and necessities being hoarded and becoming scarce. I made it a goal to start keeping two weeks of food in my house, in case society started to tear at the edges. I approached possible disaster scenarios during COVID-19 a lot like a hurricane that you never knew when it was going to hit or how long it was going to last.
My trips to restaurants became DoorDash and GrubHub orders, which I abstained from when the COVID numbers were particularly frightening. My rare grocery shopping became Instacart and PrimeNow orders which went from once a month to once every few days. I stopped taking virtually all trips outside my house unless they were absolutely necessary. Doctor’s appointments were rescheduled, and rescheduled and rescheduled. Hand sanitizer, once a rare event was now a regular occurrence whenever I did go out or when I handled deliveries.
Despite these changes, my life continued to be comfortable. I was unfazed by being cooped up in my house for prolonged periods of time, and the world was at my fingertips with the Internet and my delivery services. I watched with a fractured sense of reality as my life continued while other’s lives were thrown into turmoil due to the virus and the accompanying economical downturn. How can I have it so good when others are dying?
My providence wasn’t due to some advanced planning on my part, I was simply in the right place at the right time to weather this storm. If this virus had hit in 2008 it would have destroyed my entire life. I was one of the pigs building their house, except I was born with bricks with which to build and I was allowed to start building years before others were. When the big bad wolf came, it wasn’t preparedness that saved me. It was privilege.
I would say I watched the same news everyone else did, but sometime in the last few years, that no longer was true. Just like the pandemic was different for the stock broker who was making money hand over fist, to me who was provided for and safe, to the families forced to watch their loved ones die via video chat–our information was being custom tailored to us–powered by algorithms that make us happy, angry, scared but most importantly, focused on what they wanted to feed us.
I watched with fear as the world struggled to contain this virus. I watched with perplexion and anger as our leaders stumbled into the right steps to take, then relaxed the rules, then refused to see reality or accede to the demands of that bastard beast “The Economy”. I watched with disgust as people profited off of the suffering and death of others. I watched with anxious hope as activists risked their lives to march for justice and equity. I watched with fury as our commander in chief actively sabotaged efforts to contain the virus and its effects. Most of all, I just watched, unable to act, unable to do anything but watch and fear.
They just began vaccinating the most at-risk people in the United States. It’s quite likely that I’ll get my vaccination in 2021. Our daily routines might somewhat return to normal next year; maybe a little more cautious, maybe a little awkward as people get used to being in close contact with each other again.
But life won’t ever be the same. The virus, the economy, the information wars being waged before our eyes on social media, these things have changed us and will affect us going forward forever. Politics are now corrupted, with actual insurgents, fascists and terrorists making plays for power. COVID-19 was in some ways fuel on the fire. We shall see what burns.