Everyone’s been talking about it. Returning to normal. Going back to our old lives and doing what we want. Partying. Traveling. Freedom from the oppressive specter of disease and destruction. Too long have we walked through the valley of the shadow of death while entering ZOOM conference calls and working from our homes. It’s time to live as we were always intended to — taking public transport to shitty office jobs we dread going into every morning.
Instead of going full Tyler Durden and holding convoluted lectures on the alienation of late stage capitalism and the hollowness of private-managerial class life, I’m simply going to state the facts. The rate of infection of COVID-19 is going up. It’s going up everywhere around the world and particularly in places where restrictions have been relaxed or entirely lifted. People are getting sick in numbers that will soon be completely unmanageable, especially in countries with weak healthcare systems like Bulgaria, the Ukraine, Armenia, North Macedonia, etc.
Yet the pervasive narrative continues to be one of, at best, cautious optimism. The media has entirely been discarded and discredited as being comprised of incompetent buffoons who are complicit in some grand conspiracy to keep people locked in their homes, suffocating behind their masks and wallowing in depression and anxiety as the economy collapses around them. Who benefits from this? Who wants the world economy, fragile as it is, to come crashing down?
And so, life goes on. People haven’t crept back into city centers and main streets, they’ve flooded them. Bars and restaurants, shopping centers and amusement parks, hair salons and museums. They’re all either open or in the process of fully reopening. And soon enough there’ll be no way of stopping the disease from spreading through our communities like wildfire. All because we wanted to go out and pretend our lives were just as they were before.
Even as governments and health bodies across the globe wake up to the reality of the situation and begin to slow down the reopening of social spaces, society itself rebels against any attempt at containing the spread of the disease. Americans call mandatory masks a crime against humanity and threaten doctors. In Italy, immigrants evade quarantine and rebel against authorities openly. Not to mention the millions online who believe the virus is nothing more than an overblown pile of nothing.
It’s spiraling out of control. There’s no “going back to normal” after this. Even if the pandemic abates before we witness serious social degradation and unrest all throughout the world, climate change is entering a stage where its effects are inescapable and immutable. Race relations are more inflamed than ever. Stability in the Middle and Far East is a thing of the past. Egypt and Ethiopia are on the brink of a water war. Libya and Egypt are on the brink of territorial war. India and China squabble over the Himalayas. Russia’s kakistocracy is in economic meltdown after the oil price wars with Saudi Arabia.
There’s nothing normal left to go back to. And the longer we continue to thrash and fight for a return to a life of blissful blindness to the immense challenges that our world faces, the likelier it becomes that we will simply succumb to collapse.