So I find it endlessly fascinating how the coronavirus scamdemic has stratified our country across generations, as much as any other distinguishing trait.
Most people are inclined to split the “experience” of the past several months between blue states (forever shutdown hysteria and nightly riots) and red states (quick reopening and a dismissive shrug). And there’s a lot of truth to that. If you live in a red state and do not send your kid to public schools, your life can be pretty normal right now. (I was telling someone recently that blue state/city flight is not the only reason there’s a spectacular real estate boom in the South and Middle America. These are also the only places where most people are working and thus qualify for a mortgage. The longer an economy drifts away from ordinary capacity, the smaller their creditworthy population gets.)
The subset of our society that has probably seen the worst impact are children living in blue states. They are surrounded with and live with fear-mongering asshole adults. Before 2020, they were being told climate change was going to kill them in 12 years and the president wanted to put them in a concentration camp. Now there’s an Armageddon virus that preys on children because Orange Man Bad. Their daily lives are disrupted and their education is fucked beyond all recognition. They live in a world that only rewards obscene and irrational emotion. Even children raised on the Upper East Side with pre-Revolution weekend houses in Connecticut are out smashing windows because it’s the end of the world. Privilege is no longer an effective barrier to self-sabotage.
But when I talk to friends and family around the country, I also see another pattern emerging, and it’s one of the best things that can happen, I think, to the United States. In a search for sanity, my Generation X friends and their Generation Z kids are emphasizing family and nature.
Pretty much every Generation X friend I have took their kids to national or state parks for vacation this year. Some several times and on really long trips. They went camping. They went backpacking. They went whitewater rafting. They did day hikes to waterfalls in the Blue Ridge or swam in lakes. They began keeping nature journals and started rock collections. They learned how to paint and draw. They started a family vegetable garden.
For all the bitching about how kids spend their lives staring at screens, Generation Z seems to be living the Great American Childhood again. OUTSIDE.
I have seen several sets of friends and cousins say they took road trips to visit the graves of lost grandparents and other ancestors. They have sent pictures of their kids stopping in at random roadside attractions – a breath of fresh air from the social distancing fascists freaking out about mountains of false positives.
I have had many friends share with me their families’ new read-aloud habits. “Do you think my child is too young for The Chronicles of Narnia?” they ask. “When did you read The Hobbit to your daughter?”
It is so easy when so much of your life is spent online to get caught up in the doom and gloom or to find yourself depressed because it feels like you are the only person not buying into the doom and gloom politricks.
My husband was accosted by our elderly neighbor while checking the mail who spends literally all day long watching MSNBC. She truly believes that people across Florida are dropping like flies and when the coronavirus finally reaches our city, she’s going to lose all of her friends. She will not do the smallest task without a mask. Her normal conversations include asking people up-front what they think about President Trump. She is eating, sleeping, and breathing this toxicity, and at this point, is totally beyond hope of walking away from it. It would easier for a 500-pound woman to diet successfully than it would be for her to deprogram her brain of the hate and panic that she has thoroughly convinced herself she wants, and even needs, to consume. She thinks she is the lone rational person in a sea of “covidiots.” She is convinced the world is going to kill her, when she’s actually killing herself.
But there are plenty people around who recognize that for the mental illness that it is. And they are carving out a healthy, functional space for their children in the middle of all this madness. Their kids are going to grow up with the ability to think critically, to understand the nature of government overreach and that not all institutions have legitimate claims to authority. They are going to grow up having been exposed to the best of western civilization and the natural world.
As far as being an impetus toward personal change, 2020 has not been completely awful. And kids have been the beneficiaries of that as much as they have been the victims. Sadly, you don’t get to pick your parents.