Let’s look ahead to the future for a while. Let’s settle ourselves and relax, having nothing much to do other than busy work, activities defined by cleaning, watching TV, eating food that isn’t good for us, some of us fucking, plus maybe a little reading or playing games. Necessary home repair. Some of us smoke and drink and get high and desperately try to cope with the terror by trying to get as far away from things as possible.
Let’s start this future with a horror scenario:
So the virus lingers on–almost a year, society mostly crumbled. We’re approaching our first full winter and food is growing increasingly sparse. Those rare days walking the aisles with a scarf around your mouth, grabbing anything you can lay your hands on no matter how gross and formerly inedible, those days have become dangerous just being in the same location with anyone. The virus seems to have taught itself to resist alcohol and anti-bacterial chemicals.
TV still has a few channels, reruns, home shopping, along with various grades of political propaganda four times a day, dividing the terrified people into factions based on whichever channel is their favorite. It is much worse than it is today, fake news, with the corporate shareholding and profit margins demanding profit. No, the very idea of news, once one of the wonders of human invention, has been perverted. Nothing is exposed. Everything is broadcast as the way things aught to be.
The corruption of the media has been not particularly slow in its evolution, although it was far more tame, way back then, than the era we’ve entered in this harrowing potential near future.
Heroic or condemnatory addresses are usually delivered by Big Brother (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780451524935&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used) or some populist demagogue out of All the King’s Men (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780553126884&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used). These are people with great speech-writers and enough charisma to make these words sound either charming, threatening, or inspiring. We have no idea what is going on in the world, the internet in and out, and power outages are getting more frequent. It is calling for snow flurries in southern Florida.
People start robbing stores and other people’s houses, breaking in wielding the guns they aggressively loaded up on. Murders are up. Many police officers have quit are doing the same things.
Things get stolen that could still sell for quite a bit of money. Imagine three guys kicking your door in, two pointing guns. They shove you around, slap you and beat your ass, humiliate you. Anyone pulling a gun is immediately shot, whether one of the burglars gets killed or not. They see your daughter, go over and grab her. The mother and father are screaming while one of the kidnappers tells them to “shut the fuck up!” He punches the mother. He breaks her jaw.
The father tries to get up and save his daughter, being dragged off screaming and then loaded into a car. If he gets anywhere close he is shot. Sometimes he survives, seeing the car race off, still able to hear his child’s screams half a block away.
So there is a potential direction things might go, but it might take longer with enough people in such a future having died from the plague to keep enough food on the shelves for a while. You can even picture a supermarket with maybe three people walking the aisles, holding one of those plastic baskets, over-packed, while two people work there and a manager sits in the back on the phone, talking to his corporate masters. There are heavily armed security guards hired by the mega-farms to protect their investment. There’s no deli people or butcher, just slabs of refrigerated meat (human? diseased human?) Working at such a place has proven to be an excellent job, getting paid mostly in the first choice of food and supplies. Christmas gifts are batteries.
There is a way, I believe, to avoid such dystopian futures. We need to take advantage of this isolated time at home and reconsider our biases and hatreds. Biases have changed in this modern age, focused less on race and gender, or sexuality, and is now almost entirely against the perception of another person’s belief. Sure, there are plenty who still hate blacks and queers, the Irish, the Catholics, and the Scottish, and a whole lot more. Evangelical Christians, many who are not particularly prejudiced against people at all, truly praying for them, are forced if anyone to tolerate Jews, even with their strange customs, their incipient greed [as none of them ever call it], and that killing of first born christian babies every other sabbath in some sort of blood ritual. God’s law, they claim, tells that all the Jews must return to Israel so Jesus can return on a Pegasus, or something, and slaughter every last one of them, saving the world for paradise. Talk about a an increasingly possible final solution.
Prejudice has redirected these days, taking all of the things that we hate about other people and ramming them into an ideology. It is a cult, envisioned rage against the enemy. It is democrats or liberals or stupid right wing motherfuckers–Trumpsters, as some people witlessly call the other, misunderstanding and stereotyping them into a cheap slur: Libtards, Russian troll, right-wing retard. They use flat terms, their smug bias painting whomever and whatever into something less than human, a boomer or cuck, or just plain stupid, or any of the other, more famous and recognizable vulgar insults, about race and gender and sexuality.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all took this time to rest our exhausted anger and frustration? We could take a time out from hating each other, refusing to know, listen, or even allowing someone the offer of a contrary opinion, let’s get away from that and actually try to listen. Shouldn’t we be united, at least for the duration of this thing? Could we take advantage of the one good thing this virus offers civilization: a chance to reconcile?
But perhaps we are already too angry to return to a recognizable world once the air finally clears. Otherwise, with this dress rehearsal for apocalypse changing our very ideas on survival, how many of us might come back reeking of blood?