Sunday 7 March 2021

Nerd Church - Covid 19: Years From Now, How Will We Explain?

(Warning: as you can probably tell, this post is about Coronavirus/Covid 19. 

It also references: anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theories, general 2020-ness, mental health problems, Trump, discrimination, ableism, systemic racism, and other systemic discrimination)

"My grandparents lived through the First World War and the Spanish Flu and all that," my mam said, "it's weird - they never talked about it much."

"Well," I said, "imagine explaining 2020, and the pandemic, to someone who's not even born yet. How could you even begin to make them understand?"

'Covid 19: Years From Now, How Will We Explain?' with artsy blue background

If a child asked, decades from now, 'what happened in 2020 and 2021? How did so many people die of Covid?' - what would you answer?

Where would we start? With the fires and the floods and World War Three trending at the beginning of 2020? 

Or would we just jump straight into the Lockdowns, the social distancing, masks, Covid testing, the race for a vaccine...?

How could we explain that while people died, the politicians argued over nonsense?

That they wanted to carry on as usual? That the Lockdowns came (arguably) too late?

That the president of the USA talked sh** the entire time? That he told people to inject bleach?* 

That, like many world leaders, he was more interested in business interests and political power than in saving people's lives?

That doctors and nurses and paramedics and ambulance drivers all over the world were not given the standard of PPE they needed?

* I'm sure you already know, but better safe than sorry: DO NOT INJECT BLEACH. DO NOT DRINK BLEACH. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

How do we explain that people refused to wear a mask with such vehemence? 

That they somehow saw it as a weakness, or as anti-patriotic, or as a form of government control, even though that makes no goddamn sense?

That they argued that Covid was a hoax, or that it didn't matter, or that it was some sort of conspiracy?

How do we even begin to explain the conspiracies?

How do we explain about the anti-vaxxers and the vaccine hesitancy?

How the conspiracy theories, ableism against autistic people, and general online disinformation created this bizarre Frankenstein of mistrust and denialism?

That it was vital that everybody had the vaccine - but people refused?

How do we explain that we learned so much - too much - about the values of our friends and neighbours by their unwillingness to take safety measures? 

By their utter selfishness in having parties and going over each other's houses in the middle of a global pandemic?

How do we explain that people complained, as if it was their God-given rights being infringed, about not being able to buy alcohol in the pub?

How do we explain that while some people were fighting for their lives, others were complaining that they couldn't go on holidays?

How could we possibly explain that we could quantifiably save lives through the simplest of measures - and so many people didn't?

How do we explain the challenges of Lockdown?

How do we explain only leaving the house once a day, judging whether the journey's necessary, remembering our masks, queues for the supermarkets, police stops asking why you're out?

How do we explain what it's like battling mental health problems and other disabilities in a global pandemic? How difficult it is sometimes to keep going?

How would we explain that we couldn't hug our loved ones, see our friends and family, and how much that hurt?

How on earth would we explain the toilet paper problems?

How do we explain that the inequalities in society were laid bare for all to see... and little was done about it?

How do we explain that People of Colour were more likely to die

How do we explain that people with learning disabilities and mental health problems were more likely to die?

How do we explain that LGBTQ+ people were disproportionately affected*?

How do we explain that, at least partially, this was because these people were more likely to be poorer - and that the poor had worse general health, a higher chance of underlying health conditions, a higher probability of being a key worker... and so, were more likely to die?

*I couldn't find any death rate data - it seems likely that it hasn't been collected, but I don't know

How do we explain that people still denied these facts? Even after the death of George Floyd sent a shockwave around the world?

How do we explain to some future child, staring up, obligatorily doe-eyed, that people said Covid didn't matter - because the most likely to die were the old, the disabled, Black people, Asian people, poor people?

How do we explain that after a while people just kind of... forgot that other people were dying? And asked why the measures weren't being lifted 'fast enough'?

What will that make us, in that child's eyes?

Well? Tell me. 

Twenty or forty years from now: how on earth will we possibly explain?

Or will we just not talk about it? Because it seems impossible that someone who didn't live through it could ever understand.

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  1. I think it is important that we do talk about this in the future. That we do talk about the injustices, the politicians, and the hardships. I think it is integral to do this because then hopefully when the next tragedy hits, people will be more prepared, and they will be more determined to not make the same mistakes.

    1. The other thing, I guess, is *how* we talk about it - 'cos here in the UK (and elsewhere I'm sure) there's a tendency of rose-coloured glasses when talking about the past. And re-framing things in a way which hides those injustices would just perpetuate those same mistakes.

  2. This was a good post.

    There are so many things about this pandemic that are going to be hard to explain.

  3. I think about this quite a lot. I would have no idea how to go about explaining it and I already struggle to explain things to my daughter (though, in fairness she picks up more about the situation than I realise). I have kept a diary since the beginning of the pandemic and recorded all the crazy details, so I think I would just share that with anyone who wanted to know what life was like.

    1. A diary's not a bad plan.

      I think 2020's gonna be its own thesis topic in future, tbh!


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