If I read another fucking COVID article…

Panic porn & why I’m losing faith in us

I have a feeling this is going to offend people, but I have to get this off my chest.

I was home recently and tried to get my family to go with me to see Spiderman on Christmas Eve. Candidly, they said “I’m still afraid of COVID.”

That’s one of the weakest things I’ve ever heard. I was disappointed.

As we approach 2 years since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s become clear to me that one of my earliest theories about the long-term effect of the virus is true. I wasn’t bold enough to say it at the time, but I am now: it’s goddamn outrageous how many people have used it as a crutch to live afraid, sheltered, sad, pitiful lives. In a country with more resources than any other dedicated towards “inside life”, we’ve bred weak people who look for excuses not to face social discomfort.

I’ve considered my youth and privilege enough. I feel like we’re going back into 2020 and can’t let this slide anymore. The world I know is becoming weak and filled with people looking for excuses, of which COVID is my generation’s most convenient one.

Just like Millennials learned to prioritize experiences over things because they entered the workforce on the back of a recession and couldn’t afford things or Baby Boomers learned to prioritize the nuclear family after losing countless loved ones in World War II, we’re learning to prioritize digital interaction over in-person one because of the pandemic. Except this would be like if those Millennials got 3 rounds of $10,000 payments or those Boomers got a shot that reduced the odds of their husband or son getting drafted by 80% or whatever the figure is now.

We’re so afraid to get our hands dirty with anything and potentially get hurt that we never do, using feigned moral arguments as an intellectual escape from the jealousy we feel at those who can will themselves to embrace risk and pain. When our richest people are spending their time and money into finding ways to leave our world, whether it’s by rocket or by Metaverse, that makes me seriously worry about our species’ future.

The worst of it all is that our country seems like they’re not letting us forget where we are. I have not seen a front page news scan done without COVID being at least in the top 3 articles since 2020, and can barely tolerate the news anymore because it’s all I see. What I call “panic porn” has become the norm now — I can’t recall how many times someone has answered “how are you?” in tune with how they think the virus is being handled. Last time I checked, COVID didn’t determine your well-being, but cool.

I even joke sometimes that being COVID conscious has become people’s personalities. Reminder, your vices don’t make you interesting.

Truth is, I’m really starting to think COVID’s being used as a scare tactic. I hate this because it makes me feel like every crazy anti-vaxxer that I refuse to have sympathy for, but I’m losing my patience with how we’re treating it in America.

I grew up in a household where I had to constantly walk on eggshells, so I know the feeling of catatonic helplessness that fear can induce. Just like with any potential trauma, the idea of the bodily harm that can come from getting COVID paralyzes us when it’s constantly shoved down our throats. If we feel like that threat is always around us, we’ll stay put and wait for our keepers to tell us we’re safe.

What everyone continuing to live scared lives doesn’t realize is that the excuse to walk on eggshells is omnipresent — it’s called our mortality. Literally anything you do is a risk. Even staying inside for 2 months to avoid the potential harm that can come from interacting with the world will likely hurt your mental health more than anything being outside could’ve done. This is by far the safest, most prosperous time to ever be a human being and it’s those with more freedom than most who don’t even realize as much and use it. Shameful.

One of the core tenets I live by is that the more you don’t show up for yourself, the weaker you get. That’s what’s happening to us. Like many other things, the pandemic has been more of an accellerant than a change agent with this. As a country, we already drink too much, eat too much sugar, sleep too little, exercise too little, stress too much, worry too much, don’t have enough sex, and aren’t outside enough.

Add not communicating, disagreeing, and working together enough in-person and you get a deadly cocktail of someone 10 pounds overweight with multiple addictions, social anxiety, and a lack of mindfulness and discipline to change any of it. Aka the average American. We’re fucked.

I can’t fucking believe I’m still working through a screen. I’ve accepted this won’t be over for a while, so might as well live until it bites me in the ass.

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Carter Owen

Carter Owen

Aspiring author and humble observer of human behavior writing from NYC — sharing my journey and what I’m learning along the way. Think more, feel better.