A commonly expressed example of American excess is the fact that we constitute just 5 percent of the world’s population but consume a quarter of its resources. We haven’t quite reached that level with our share of the world’s Covid deaths, but our current 15.8 percent stake is still a plenty potent argument for American exceptionalism, though obviously not the sort of argument the exceptionalists prefer to make. Our Covid death toll makes well over 300 9/11s we’ve essentially opted into over the past two years, but who’s counting? The media has been salivating over the approach of our one millionth (official) death for months now, and that milestone’s slow arrival is said to bode well for the transition from pandemic to endemic. Mask mandates are gone, and if the quick reversal of Philly’s latest attempt is any indication, they’re probably not coming back. All the while, the looming specter of The Next Variant remains, kids under five still can’t be vaccinated, immunocompromised folks have basically been abandoned, and basing our success solely on death and hospitalization rates ignores the still little understood implications of long Covid.
But fuck it, as is our wont, we’ve got plenty of other things to worry about. Whether it’s Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine, Elon Musk’s hostile takeover of Twitter, or the Supreme Court’s impending detonation of Roe v. Wade, doomscrolling fodder is never in short supply in these desperately stupid times.
After six years of punishing headlines, my attention span and emotional capacity for perpetual crisis has gotten pretty limited. I quit my job in February, and I’ve spent the past few months focusing on art and trying to figure out how to address my diminished enthusiasm for my profession. But that’s a subject for another post.
This post, like so many before it, is about helplessness. The shitheads are winning. There are many ways to contort the big picture to counter that narrative, of course, and maybe in a future post I’ll summon the energy to substantively indulge some of that positive thinking. For now, I’ll just offer up this tiny win: I finally figured out that the trouble with my phone’s stubborn charging port was a buildup of tightly packed pocket lint. I learned how to properly clean it out, and I no longer have to do a complicated rain dance to get my phone to charge. So at least there’s that.