In this time where people are restricted regarding their normal social liberties, I have found reason to view them as an outsider might a group attending a party held by the in-laws. Or perhaps an ornithologist observing the migrations of some small, chirpy bird in its annual nesting routine.
Let us for a moment ignore and set aside the validity of the various lockdowns. Let us ignore and set aside the morality of the various enforcement methods. And let us also ignore and set aside the economic impact that will stem from this whole exercise. Our only focus is on how people are responding to the forced isolation.
This is the best thing that has ever happened to anyone.
Okay, that needs to be quantified.
Humans have this innate desire to value their existence by the amount of suffering they must overcome daily. Perceived suffering is the greatest source of joy for any human.
I’m not speaking of people who live hand-to-mouth. They typically don’t give a shit about the latest vegan diet and social justice trends, and how Trump is the antichrist. They have more important things to worry about. Like just getting on with living day-to-day.
No, I’m talking about the people with time on their hands. People who have more than the basics required for survival. Those who wear name brand jeans, and jog with those dumbass straps to carry an iPhone on their bicep. People with man-buns. People who agonise over the morality of drinking a glass of milk. Those whose existence is shaped as much by the perceived and subjective “truth” as much as by fact.
The Germans have a term; schadenfreude. It basically means the gleeful feeling of self-satisfaction we have at the bad luck of someone else. I posit that this is but one facet of the human condition. Not only do we enjoy the suffering of others, but we secretly enjoy our own suffering more. As long as it isn’t too inconvenient. Not real hardship, you understand? Just a little something to spice up the day.
And therefore the global lockdown is wonderful.
You see, while we have a need to overcome, without actually being challenged, we also have a real need for oppression. We don’t really want freedom. We not only want, but secretly crave, desire, and lust after the oppressive boot of big government. Our society loves that firm hand on the shoulder, telling us when we can have a snack, when to have a nap, when to go home, and when to play outside. We never grow up. Deep down, we are all still little kids hoping Granny or the preschool teacher will notice us and tell us what good children we are.
And the best ways to achieve this, is to either stand out through having a booboo, or by telling teacher the naughty kids are playing by the car.
While a scraped knee is now substituted by scraped constitutional rights, it basically comes down to the same. The very term “constitutional rights” indicates how we see the world. We aren’t alive by the grace of the government. We are alive, and government can’t take that away, hence the law. But we think in terms of reification. A thing only exists if we give it a conceptual meaning. You don’t have a “right to life”. It’s like saying the moon has a “right” to be subject to the Earth’s gravity well. It’s what is, not what we think should be. But I digress.
Combining our childish need to be kept in our little box with our system of valuing hardship, the restrictions being imposed are the dreams come true for every middle-aged housewife out there. We can complain and rant as much as we want. We have reason to complain. It’s justified. And we can also inform on our neighbours. It’s the best of both.
I see my neighbours frothing at the mouth over the guy walking down the street. Never mind that his bin was left at the end of the street by the garbage collectors. He isn’t allowed to be out. He is “BREAKING TEH RULES!!!11”. Get the army to come shoot him. Or at least slap him around a bit. He deserves it. But I don’t, obviously. If I go out, it’s with good reason only. It’s a good reason because I say it is. Stands to reason. I’m an intelligent, rational person. My judgement is so much better than my neighbour’s.
But when I stop at the check point, I will pick a fight with the soldier or policeman. I want him to be unreasonable. If he acts cool, then I don’t have anything to tell my online followers. But if I push him, and he reacts, I can show the world my struggle: The world is against me. If it weren’t for my exceptional strength of character and determination, I would have dissolved into the aether a long time ago. And while I have your attention, look at this weak-willed heathen, going house to house begging for food. That bastard. He should be loaded onto a train and taken somewhere else where he can contribute.
There is a lot more to say about this. But it’ll be drowned out by those among us who resent people for making good decisions and acting responsibly. After all, If I plan long-term, work hard, act wisely, and make good decisions, my children will be resented by society and told to “check your privilege”.
So instead of being a responsible human in a civilised human society, try this. It’ll make you happier deep down inside.
Just stop. Don’t think. Don’t reason. Just accept what benevolent democracy dictates. You can go with the flow. You can complain where the stream takes you. And above all remember that everything is binary and absolute.
Written by Stefan Meyer.
Stefan is a scruffy, cantankerous, rude and unpleasant man who was trapped in the gun trade and training for over ten years. Thanks to some dumb university losing his registration, and he could not finish his psychology degree.