We live in strange times. At the very least. I’d say bad times. Not, like, World War II bad, but pretty bad.
There’s a lot of stuff out there causing a lot of anxiety. The worst kind of anxiety, too: the sort of anxiety that reminds you that you are going to die.
It’s an anxiety that seeks resolution in different ways for different types of people. Some are choosing to take refuge in alternate versions of reality where the bad stuff isn’t happening. Or if it is happening, it’s not that bad. Or if it is that bad, it’s not their problem. Or if it is their problem, someone’s going to solve it for them.
For others, anxiety resolves in depression. Or keeping calm and carrying on, waiting the bad times out. Or waging an online war against misinformation. A variety of ways to deal. Some more and less helpful than others.
Aside from the general anxiety in the air (if you will) right now, there are also some very specific anxieties that pop up in particular groups as a result of very specific triggers.
One of them is American election season, my least favourite season, especially with the current state of political discourse in the US.
One reaction, on the right, has been to retreat into the fantasy realm of QAnon conspiracy. It’s a big tent, with everything from flat-earthers to baby-eating cabal types, to antivaxxers, to COVID denialists.
This is the “Trump is gonna save us” fantasy (and I call it a fantasy because Trump is very obviously not going to save anyone; he’s good at exactly one thing, and that thing is media manipulation).
On the other end of the spectrum, the left is extremely concerned with the rise of these loons.
The question is… why now?
The timing is suspicious. It’s almost as if it’s driven by fear that my chosen candidate won’t win the election.
I’m not going to mince my words or attempt to both-sides this. Trump is an inveterate liar and cheat who has failed upward his entire life, all the way into the presidency, and has chosen to surround himself with protofascists who want to create a white ethnostate. His administration, if you can even call it that, is transparently incompetent and corrupt.
If I had to choose (and I’m glad, as a Canadian, I don’t have to choose), I’d vote for Biden, a milquetoast liberal, simply to clean house.
The problem is this: none of the things we do to decrease our anxiety work. I mean, it might be comforting in the short term to pretend like leftist antifa BLM cabal paedophile Hollywood lizard-people are going to be defeated by daddy Trump, but that’s a childish fantasy. You’re going to have to move on eventually, and reality will still be there.
It might be comforting to think that your facts and logic and firm grasp on reality might shake some of these folks out of their dreamworld, but they’re immunized against facts, and your keyboard warrioring probably won’t do anything.
Both reactions are understandable. We live in an age of limitless knowledge and crippling powerlessness. We know so much, but can affect so little. The channels that we have, especially during the pandemic, to advocate and influence are faceless, mediated, and ultimately dehumanizing.
I wish I had some kind of silver bullet to offer, but I don’t. Other than to say, COVID will pass, election season will pass, late capital will pass, and some sort of normal will emerge out the other side.
In the meantime, be good to eachother.