The aftereffects of the past few years, and especially the past 12 months, which I’ve taken to calling the Year of Doomscrolling, continues to be a genuinely odd place to be.
As I made obvious last week, I’ve not only become paranoid about potential outbreaks of political violence from the right — although, in my defense, I wasn’t alone and there was ample reason from the past month alone to suspect such a thing would take place; I was, of course, genuinely relieved to be wrong — but I’ve also ended up feeling endlessly agitated by the fact that things aren’t going worse than they are, because it has me convinced that bad news is literally just around the corner. After Doomscrolling, perhaps this is the age of anxious concern and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
On top of all that, I’ve also become impatient with how quickly other things have been returning to what used to be normal; I’m still paying too much attention to the overall political chatter, the news reports and the analysis, and I’ve been inundated with commentary about things that are genuinely trivial as if they’re actually important: Peloton bikes, Rolex watches, and so on. It’s as if journalists have forgotten about the coup attempt that happened just a couple weeks earlier, somehow.
(I remember, during the Trump years, that journalists and pundits would make snarky responses to the days when Obama wearing a tan suit was considered a scandal; I didn’t realize that they wanted to make such things happen again quite so quickly. You live and learn, I guess.)
It’s not just the pundit class, though; somehow, the fact that Bernie Sanders wore an overcoat and mittens to the inauguration produced a meme that lives on almost a week later. It’s an old man wearing old man things! Why is anyone surprised, never mind amused?
All of this comes from the same place, though — for me, for everyone, I suspect: recovering from a period where it felt as if everything was happening all at once, and was incredibly important. Leaving that period, going to something that is, in theory, not as dramatic or horrific, was always going to be difficult to adjust to. How do you recover from the end of the world?