Friday, April 19, 2024

Life in the Time of the Virus: The Great Forgetting

I probably should rethink the title of this series. It is now ALWAYS the time of the Virus, as we wait for it to mutate once more, or for something EVEN WORSE to show up on the horizon. It's not going away.
New York Restaurant, Edward Hopper, 1922

But in the meantime, we are in the throes of the Great Forgetting. Having passed through the worst of times, we are trying to forget they even happened. The pandemic that crushed our medical infrastructure and cost a million lives in the US alone has subdued to endemic levels. Maybe even just demic levels. And so we kinda forget it was only yesterday.

At first I thought it was just me. I'm at the age where I think of the 90s as only five years ago or so, and my entire computer game career to be some sort of side gig I took between writing campaign settings for RPGs. And that I have to THINK about things to remember that 2004 was twenty years ago.

But it's just not me. We seem as a people to have "moved on" and dumped what collective experiences we had down the memory hole. Everything since the millennium has been just a couple years ago. We seem to be stuck in neutral, and part of it is throwing out stuff we don't want to remember. Like the pandemic. Facebook sends the occasional reminder from four years past, and there is the much-rarer news report of someone flipping out about someone else wearing a mask, but it has all been pushed to the sidelines. There is more talk about people working from home than WHY they were working from home in the first place.

And yeah, we've done it before. In the wake of the misnamed Spanish Flu (which is not truly Spanish, but got its start in the trenches of WWI), we wanted to pass on that ever happening. There were occasional references in later years to the Great Influenza, but by the time I started learning history, it was a footnote. We were so damned determined to return to normalcy (heck, politicians even ran on the platform in the 1920's), that we pretty much learned nothing, and reacted in surprise when other flus and diseases rolled through like summer storms.

In part my concern is that I'm personally moving into convention season, in a year when D&D turns 50 and I'm traveling more than normal. I returned from Gary Con (great convention in Lake Geneva, WI) with a killer cold that literally knocked me out for a couple days (and I am still gravel-voiced for a while). It was the first time since I had COVID that I was seriously ill. A colleague returned from the con with a nasty case of the flu and exhaustion, and another colleague tested positive from COVID. So as we're moving around more, it is getting more likely we'll pick something up.

So that's where we are. Challenges still lurk out there. Caution recommended but not expected.  We've kinda forgotten.

More later,