Sunday, January 31, 2021

2020: A Year in Review

You're welcome, 2020.
For those of us who lived through 2020, it is our sincerest hope that we never encounter another of her like in our lifetimes. Normally, I wouldn't feel comfortable speaking for the entire world, but this is one of the rare cases where things went so terribly sideways, and the citizens of little planet Earth were united by the common desire for something or someone to fuck right off. In this case, it was the entirety of the year 2020.

But as 2020 proved, years aren't bad. People are bad. Not all and not fundamentally, but people are can turn lemons into lemonade or improvised explosives. Sure nature is uncaring and ambivalent, but it takes people to really turn things to shit.

The year 2020 was, of course, dominated by the life-altering effects of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, which evolved into a global pandemic. It not only affected the lives of individuals, it shook the very foundations of our entire civilization. Or, at least, it exposed cracks already forming in the bedrock. Of course, the United States was a prime example of how a basic issue of health and safety could become politicized, but there are similar sociopolitical divisions that were laid bare all over the world.

We already knew that increased levels of stress and anxiety provide a toxic mixture that negatively impacts mental health, corrodes reason, and obstructs otherwise sound decision-making. But seeing it in action on a planetary scale is something else to behold entirely. As lock-downs and stay-at-home orders  were issued in nations the world over in an effort to maximize social distancing and stop the spread of an incredibly deadly virus, social media platforms like Facebook allowed for the large-scale dissemination of increasingly ridiculous conspiracy theories and outright lies and showed us exactly which family members and friends were most likely to break in a police interrogation or be the least help in a zombie apocalypse. 

Once again proving that no matter how batshit crazy a scheme old bitch Mother Nature could cook up humans are even batshit crazier, the global spread of misinformation is proving to be more destructive than COVID-19 could ever have hoped to be.  As victim after victim fell to COVID-19, which even with all the health and safety measures we've implemented still claimed anywhere between three and ten times as many lives as the common flu does annually, even more people succumbed to conspiracy theories, QAnon and incel bullshit, and political manipulation by billionaires and bad-faith, right-wing politicians who couldn't give less of a shit about the people they were manipulating and the lives they were knowingly ruining if they tried.

As lockdown and social distancing measures implemented in March 2020 were extended and the pandemic dragged on for the rest of the year (and with no current end in sight in 2021, though at least we're on our way distributing a vaccine), the stress allowed people's true colours to shine through. Decent folk did their best to avoid unnecessary shopping trips to brick and mortar stores, adapted to working and learning from home where they could, and started wearing a mask and sanitizing their hands regularly as simple, but effective, means to save the lives of their family, friends, loved ones, and complete strangers. Assholes, on the other hand, complained about how wearing a piece of fabric over their mouths (and noses) to *checks notes* demonstrably stop the spread of COVID-19 and save other human fucking lives was somehow an infringement on their civil liberties. These douchebags could be seen flaunting their maskless faces in public places; intentionally coughing on other people; shouting at minimum-wage employees trying to keep the whole, miserable machine running as it threatened to grind to a catastrophic halt; trying to spread their brand of crazy on every online platform at their disposal; and even organizing protests against the *checks notes* simple life-saving measures governments were implementing because of the minor inconvenience it caused them.

People complaining about having to wear a mask to save people's lives really drove home how much their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents had to sacrifice in World Wars I and II, and how much the freedoms the fought for were being totally abused. It's not just the men and women who gave their lives to fight back against fascism, totalitarianism, and racial genocide, but entire countries worth of people who came together to sacrifice by enduring the literal destruction of their homes by enemy bombing and the wide-scale rationing of food and other basic necessities. In the 1940s, somehow, Allied countries were able to come together as an entire society including dozens of countries reorganized into a concerted effort to mobilize against a known threat to civilization. 

Eighty years later, and we can't even get people to wear a mask and stay out of Walmart for a couple days.

Only in the year 2020 could anti-fascists have been labelled the true fascists and anti-anti-fascists somehow not understand how double-negatives work. People literally took to the streets shouting about how they didn't believe that reality was reality, and how implementing wide-scale health and safety measures were somehow the harbinger of fascism. I take it these are the same people who don't wear seatbelts, brush their teeth, or install fire alarms in their homes in defiance of government measures to save their lives. At least we're all in agreement about one thing; everybody knows who the true fascists are now.

It wasn't all bad, of course. In 2020 we also saw the Black Lives Matter movement make great strides in shedding light on the important issue of racial discrimination, not only in the United States, but globally, through a series of wide-scale protests. Donald Trump was voted out of office, leading to the dramatic drop-off in the global export of United States InsanityTM, so at least the rest of us didn't have to hear utter stupidity like the idea of injecting bleach to fight off COVID-19 being spewed by a well-known and highly publicized world leader. The scientific community came together to develop a vaccine against COVID-19  in record time, which as of January 2021 is in the process of (very slowly) being distributed in our first counter-offensive against the virus.

The truly frustrating part about the current social effects of COVID-19 is how the selfish actions (or inaction) of so many people are fucking the rest of us. Knowing that if everyone had pulled together to consistently follow even the most basic of health and safety precautions that the quality of life for all of us would have gone up considerably in the wake of a global pandemic is a piss-off in and of itself. Even worse is the sheer number of adults throwing full-blown temper-tantrums like overgrown toddlers, wailing about returning to "normal" while failing to acknowledge a simple basic fact:

We are currently in the transition period to a "new normal."

The world is never going to return to the same social, political, or cultural state as it was before the pandemic. All of these idiots whining about how having to wear a mask to (and I cannot stress this enough) save people's lives is somehow an infringement on basic rights and the first step towards establishing the Fourth Reich sound like a bunch of kids whining about how their pants are full of shit and demanding that somebody else clean them because they refused to sit on the potty like big boys and girls. Cleaning up after one toddler is bad enough; multiply the soiled underwear by millions, and the scale of the mess the rest of us have to clean up seems truly daunting.

Still, those of us with even the most basic sense of empathy or human decency have made an effort to try and follow health guidelines and safety practices to try and stem the tide of both the COVID-19 virus and dilute the stream of utter bullshit bombarding us on an constant basis on various social media platforms. Like many others, I've made a concerted effort to limit my trips to physical stores except for basic necessities, like food. I always wear my mask in public (and carry a backup in my pocket) to prevent the spread of the virus (as a very high percentage of carriers are actually asymptotic, meaning you can be a carrier without actually seeing any or all of the symptoms). I've switched to primarily on-line shopping as much as possible, and I thankfully have a job that I can both perform from the relative comfort and safety of my home and still exists in the wake of widespread layoffs in a number of industries. I've been trying to do my best to support local businesses where I can, though it's not easy as a lot of smaller, local stores simply don't have the infrastructure to support the kind of online commerce that larger retailers can.

Like most people, I've done my best to adapt to a life at home. Though my family and I are starting to show signs of mental and physical wear as we enter month eleven of a continuous form of lockdown in some form or another, at least we're all stuck in this thing together. 

With social distancing measures in place, communal spaces like movie theatres and gyms have essentially been in a state of partial or total closure. With all of the money I saved from not travelling anywhere or, you know, doing anything, I managed to upgrade to a 65-inch TV to try and recreate that big-screen experience as much as possible from home. I'm actually fairly lucky in that most of my hobbies I've been able to migrate entirely to my house. Even though 2020 took away any hope of getting together with my regular board game group, it gave me a built-in board game group now that my two kids are old enough to play through most games with me. Aside from movies and board games, I also have video games, and a small, but effective, home gym (read: a bench and a couple of dumbbells) to try and maintain some semblance of physical fitness. The pandemic has also served as a great excuse for upping my writing output, producing content both here at Feed the Voices and over at Reel Film Chronicles with Ryebone and working on a new novel. My wife and I also started to renovate the basement, mostly because our sump pump failed in April and caused some minor flooding that forced us to replace all the flooring. 

I guess the key to 2020, like any situation that involves extreme physical isolation, was to keep the mind and body as busy as possible. Even with the benefit of an unprecedented global communications network, the human need for meaningful social interaction became glaringly apparent in 2020, as the simple things we took for granted were ripped away. Even someone like me, who enjoys their private time more than the average person and isn't likely to be described as a social butterfly, can readily admit that need for social interaction is key to one's mental health.

Now a month deep into 2021, the realization has set in that the road to the new normal is going to be a lot longer and more arduous that any of us cared to admit to ourselves. Because of the Christmas season and so many people disregarding social distancing policies, many regions have had to implement or re-implement much stricter public health protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent completely needless deaths. Until the vaccine becomes widely available and people start following basic health and safety measures, right now our current course of action in 2021 is to stay the course.

Although I look toward the future with a sense of hope, much like Sarah Conner at the end of Terminator 2, there is still the risk of catastrophe, much like every other Terminator sequel that followed Terminator 2. For now, the plan is to continue to live and work from home, trying to stay busy with movies, video games, board games, exercise, writing, and home renovations; limit my exposure to others as much as possible to limit the spread of COVID-19; wear a mask when I do go out in public, like a decent human being; and try to take things a day at a time.

Looking back at 2020, it's amazing how fragile and how resilient human beings truly are. The important thing is to keep doing our collective best and hope that we don't Terminator: Genisys the whole thing up. The best we can do is put out faith in each other, because really, what other choice do we have? 

Here's looking at you, 2020: The year that will be remembered forever as reading less like history and more like bad, batshit crazy, drug-fuelled fan fiction. And here's to all of us who had to live through that shit.


  1. sinefocus
    full hd film izle, full film izle, hd film izle, film izle, dizi film önerileri, Konusu, Oyuncuları, Tanıtımı, Fragmanı, full hd film izle