For most of my life, I can remember people referencing the line about, “living in interesting times,” and talking about how it’s clearly a curse; I’m pretty sure I first heard that in my early teens, if not earlier. It was a reading that always felt a little too cynical, a little too on-the-nose and snarkily, “I’m so grizzled, I know that interesting is a euphemism for bad.” And then, 2020 happened.
Really, the strangest thing for me has perhaps been communicating with my sisters in the UK during the whole thing. Every few weeks, there would be a new message asking, essentially, “is this true? Are things that bad?” and I’d have to explain, yes, it’s kind of true, but not exactly as was being reported: yes, there were protests, but it wasn’t full-scale rioting throughout the city, say, or, sure, the skies are filled with smoke and we’re surrounded by wildfires, but it’s not exactly the red skies of Mad Max: Fury Road that the internet and some smart photo filters was making it look like, and least not yet.
Every time I’d send these messages back, I’d fight the urge to ask them similar questions about what was happening there, because I’d seen similarly breathless reporting about the UK. Was Covid rebounding so quickly, so cruelly as the numbers made it seem? Was the country still plunging towards the economic apocalypse of Brexit? Was the Government really admitting publicly that it was breaking the law, but everything was fine because it was only a little bit lawless?
(That last one feels particularly ironic to Americans, perhaps, given our own leader’s relationship with legality.)
Everything just keeps happening. Everything is just so interesting.
I remember watching HBO’s Years and Years last year, and being horrifyingly addicted — or addictively horrified, perhaps — by how quickly things turned convincingly dystopian as the show pushed into the future. But living it now, it’s both funny and tragic that, from today’s point of view, the show underestimated how fast the slide would actually be.
I’m tired. I want to be bored, again.