Some thoughts on the COVID–19 pandemic

I spend a lot of time on Twitter. At the time of writing, I count over 16,000 Tweets, for a meager 200-something followers. But I like to think I still do a decent job being custodian of my timeline, as it is a novel and difficult thing. A lot of politicians’ names are muted forever. I mute promoted Tweets on sight, no exceptions. But I know, I’m still an addict, as they say.

I’ve cultivated my followings towards people with a keen intellect in general, and this has proven very rewarding in a time where the world is being swept by a novel coronavirus pandemic. There is much thought to be had about this! But I should say, one thing I do not often share on my timeline with them is my emotional indifference to the situation. I want to make this clear as a position of mine that is not cynical, though it may seem so.

Something interesting about COVID–19 is its affinity for the sick and elderly. This has caused great hysteria for many people, as a war of the generations has been ongoing in the sidelines for some time now. As it wears on, the generational feud reveals itself to be fraudulent though; some viral content from Generation X, Millenials, and Generation Z have been very hostile towards other age groups, predominantly Boomers. I think this has been a great misunderstanding of what it means to be a Boomer.

‘Boomer’ has become quite the naughty word recently. What does it mean? If I had to distill it, I would define a Boomer as someone who lives a plentiful life off the backs of Cringe.

Cringe, originally, meant a reaction people have to uncouth, embarrassing, or just socially unattractive things people do. Allegedly this began with Baby Boomers, but what has been happening is that whenever there has been Cringe, it has been counteracted or ‘covered for’ through incentive structures or dropping of means (e.g. hush money, job titles, etc). Harvey Weinstein’s kitten cabal was cringe, and so were all the people riding the #MeToo gravy train. This self-sustaining relationship Cringe has with itself is the ultimate irony, and it defines this era better than anything else.

On a less analytical front, there are a lot of big-picture sociological ways to explain why things are falling apart in America in a way they aren’t anywhere else. Dead grandparents is a topic no other culture is having to come to grips with, and it has as much to do with a selfish youth as it does a geriatric population that have put themselves on a hilltop piled up from decades and decades of cheating the system by laundering their Cringe.

My personal story is fucked up. It is not exceptional. I spent my upbringing in poor public schools staffed by crazy local poors like my own, who often treated me like garbage for their own evil, perverse reasons. I went to wealthier public schools and got better treatment, but my parents were still crummy and I would end up moving away in any case. As an adult I had to fight with everything I didn’t have to not only not become like them and repeat their mistakes, but to define what it is to be a better person and strive to live a good life.

This is why I have been so blessed to have married at 19, into an Indonesian family that has faithfully supported me, at great cost, as one of their own. I have a gift from Asia that almost no American could ever have: I know what it means to have family, and I will always believe in it because of that.

I cannot harbour any beliefs or biases about American society and how it is constructed. I know that in many ways it is so thoroughly eaten up and rotten that it was beyond saving a long time ago. Looking at the lines in the airports from the TSA checking people for COVID, and my take is only that they were never good for anything to begin with. This was never going to work. They’re taken from the same worker pool as McDonald’s employees, from a welfare-to-work system. None of them know or care. They’re too impoverished. They don’t even know what compassion looks like on a rainy day. I know this because I grew up with these kinds of people. I was watched in daycare by them. They were my classmates. I don’t believe in them any more than I believe in my old self. Some things cannot be made up for. Sometimes, by circumstance, you‘re just jolly-well-fucked, and there’s no way around that.

Until next time,
Alexander Nicholi