“People who are vaccinated don’t get long-haul COVID,” Aunt Susy declared on Christmas morning, before adding in the very same breath: “I just made that up.”
When I laughed and began typing the quote into my phone, she thought I was going to use it to mock her on Writing Boots. No, I told her: I’m going to celebrate you, for your self-awareness.
We are reassured that COVID now isn’t as bad as COVID two years ago, because we have more tools to fight it with.
Well, better COVID-related interpersonal communication is not one of them.
Over a holiday lockdown with a COVID family member to whom we had all been exposed, I heard urgent and impatient guidance about exposure and testing accuracy and contagion and case numbers and variants and protocols, from many family members without so much as a degree in marine biology—including myself. Each of us took turns talking to one another like we were Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Except, a jerkier and more supremely self-assured Gupta.
This COVID nightmare has helped me walk in the sandals of ancient peoples, whose “superstitions” I better appreciate. These people endured millennia of not knowing shit from Shinola about such issues as which way is up. So they fabricated myths, sacrificed some lambs (and perhaps overreacted to Galileo. But like Dr. Fauci, he must have anticipated getting some push-back from insistently informing a whole planet of human beings that they were not, in fact, the center of the universe).
Who are the magical reality explainers now? You and you and you and me. After a couple years of “following the science” like dogs chasing cars, the most socially cooperative and cautiously cerebral of us are panting hard (and fogging up our monocles). And we are still telling, not just the non-vaccinated unwashed, but one another, in the most imperious terms, how to properly approach the latest variant of a disease we don’t personally understand any better than we understood derivatives, back in 2008. I seem to remember a lot of sudden “sub-prime mortgage experts” back then, too.
I don’t think you and I need to admit we were “wrong” to listen to the experts all along. To uneducated guesses, I prefer educated ones, even if they conflict with one another.
But even after two years of the experts guessing wrong, we lay people are astoundingly unwilling to admit we have no idea what the fuck we are talking about—or what we are doing. Nobody wants to admit she or he has no control over the future, no idea where to turn, no idea what to believe, or whom.
We’re all playing a board game that has many pieces including a timer, but a new set of rules every time we roll the dice. And we’re all pretending we know exactly how to play.
Maybe this is the universe’s Grand Reminder that we’re not as smart as our smart phones fool us into feeling. To paraphrase a cartoon I saw recently: Yes, we can now hold gigantic mainframe computers in our hand while we poop.
But despite much study by brilliant scientists, human beings don’t even know why we sleep.
As a little kid, I remember asking my father, after considering all of humankind’s discoveries, “Dad, were people in the old days just a lot dumber than us?”
He laughed, and said something like: “No. It wasn’t brains they were lacking, just knowledge.”
Well, as we’ve seen firsthand during COVID: When we’re lacking knowledge, we sure sound like we’re lacking brains, too.