The Year that Wasn't

2020.08.21 by Josh Erb; 593 words.

I've recently noticed that a new pastime has emerged when talking with friends. The ritual is pretty simple, usually someone will say something to the effect of "back when we thought the lock-down was only going to last two weeks," and the rest of the group uneasily chuckles as we all mentally note that we've been in this state of societal shutdown for the better part of six months.

Morbid Context

I'm writing from Illinois on the first real vacation of the year. Of course, I use the term 'vacation' here in the loosest possible sense. This is the first trip back west to visit family where I've found myself doing a mental risk benefit analysis. Will this decision ultimately bring harm to my loved ones? It's a hard emotional state to parse. Wanting to be close to family. Knowing that this impulse may cause you to bring an incurable disease to their door.

But of course, I must also acknowledge the insane amount of privilege required to take paid vacation as the world around me continues its free fall into chaos. This is a glaring undercurrent of many of my posts and is something I hope to write about more explicitly in the future.

Uneventful Horizon

I've previously written about locking myself out of Twitter. The idea being at the time, that if I didn't have direct access to my account, I would squander less time and less mental + emotional energy endlessly scrolling. To some degree, this convoluted exercise was a success. On the other hand, it has also been a failure. I will still catch myself returning to the platform's "Explore" tab in search of news. The awesome - and I'm using that word in it's original sense - strength of the site's gravitational pull is terrifying.

Emergent Narrative Tropes

Shortly after breakfast this morning, I found myself reading about the rapid growth of a new gang in the District's suburbs. I was struck by the fact that this article's narrative arc very closely resembles the one employed in business magazines when talking about the meteoric rise of the latest tech start-up.

I'm not sure if this has to do with the lack of range that journalistic narratives like this one allow themselves, or if it is simply a symptom of being hopelessly entrenched in the view point of a capitalist society. But at times, it reads as if the article is saying:

"Yes, the illicit activities are unpleasant and frightening, but you've got to admire how scrappy and fast these young kids are! They've really managed to disrupt the existing market players, and take a sizable chunk out of the total available market."

I find myself wondering if this narrative form is present in any journalism that relates to the pursuit of unhampered capital growth. A research dissertation for another day, perhaps.

What's Next

I've taken off a sizable chunk of time[1]. While some of this time is set aside for catching up on the backlog of responsibilities that slip when you're locked indoors during a plague (e.g. sleep, physical fitness, car maintenance, etc.), I hope to give some time to catching up on my reading and writing. One of my largest sources of guilt at the moment is that I have yet to establish a consistent writing routine[2].

  1. For an American (2.5 weeks).

  2. Another topic for a future post, perhaps.

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