There are times when I wonder what the last few years have done to us, as a whole; if the constant stream of seemingly impossible, unthinkable things that have kept happening over and over have piled up on top of each other in our brains and created a crust where there didn’t use to be one.
Every week now, every single week, the news will report at least one story that, even just five years ago, would have produced enough outrage and bluster to echo for weeks, if not months. And each of these stories feels like a big thing for awhile — remember that time when the Attorney General announced the resignation of someone investigating Trump, only for them to say that they hadn’t resigned? Or, hey, what about the President retweeting racist propaganda over and over again? — and then, somehow, we move on. Even if we don’t really mean to.
To put this in some kind of context: I found myself thinking the other day, things seem to have calmed down a bit recently, and then I remembered that there are still countrywide protests against police brutality featuring thousands of people every single night, and there’s also still a fucking pandemic that the US doesn’t have under any appreciable level of control. In fact, just the opposite; cases are spiking in multiple states and lockdowns and quarantines are coming to an end anyway, because… we’re bored, maybe…? Someone wants to make more money…?
Maybe I’m alone in feeling nervous about the ways in which events have seemingly blurred lines about what’s important and what’s not in our heads. Perhaps it’s a survival technique to prevent us all from being overloaded and collectively losing our minds, because of all the bullshit and formerly unthinkable things that we’re living through and the need to operate on a day to day basis without being frozen by all of it. When was the last time you really thought about the US putting kids in cages, for example?
At some point, things will slow down again, and we’ll hopefully start to reckon with everything that’s happened on our watch. My worry isn’t that we won’t do that; my worry is that we’ll find ourselves missing the endless, numbing, non-stop everything pace of the last five years when we do.