This essay was first published in PoliQuads Magazine, Sunday, March 29th. 2020
Humans are a social species. Isolation is not good for us. Yet here we are, self isolating and social distancing as if our lives depended on it, and for a vulnerable demographic, it does. For non-vulnerable demographics, and millennials in particular, it’s hard.
For the last four years they have been instructed by the liberal establishment on both sides of the Atlantic to think of Boomers and Gen X’ (aka “deplorables”) with nothing less than contempt. Now they are being asked to self isolate because they could be asymptomatic spreaders of a virus which could kill Trump and Brexit voters en masse! For a generation notable for inventing duckface, thinking free speech is actual violence, and otherwise doing less with an average IQ than a chimp can with a stick, that’s a tough call!
As an evolutionist, I’ve often wondered if we humans, in the absence of selection pressures, create our own. Zoo keepers have learned that captive social animals don’t do well when their instincts are deadened by a lack of stimulus and want for nothing. They get fat, lethargic and depressed. Remind you of anyone? Interventions have included keepers hiding their food and making them search for it and putting the animals into social groups, allowing them to indulge in species typical behaviors such as forming dominance hierarchies around access to resources such as food and mates. It works. They begin to get better. They begin to thrive. A little bit of pressure helps the blade stay sharp.
Now, here we humans are faced with a genuine, acute selection pressure beyond the control of man, woman or politician, which could paradoxically have the effect of healing a fractured and atomised society, and the millennial media who, for 20 years have built long peacetime, pandemic free careers in the noble art of meaningless partisan carping, cannot snap out of it. Whether you love, loathe or are indifferent to Trump, the sight of a gaggle of spoilt babies spitting their dummies out in protest at whatever comes out of his mouth is a sorry sight. In the UK too, as CV19 went viral, a sectarian carping virus invaded the population, prompting people to kvetch to a degree that, post Trump and Brexit, one would have thought impossible. No one would have believed that there was so much more phlegm left in the world.
First were the professional contrarians blowing sweet and sour about our government’s strategy to contain or delay transmission. There was consternation over the use of the phrase “herd immunity”. This is a term that has been used for decades in discussions of childhood vaccinations. Since November 30th 2018, WebMD has described it thus, “Herd immunity protects people who can’t get vaccinated because their immune system is weak and vaccines might make them sick. This includes babies, people with vaccine allergies, and anyone with an immune-suppressing disease like HIV or cancer.”
There might have been, in fact, should have been a calm conversation to be had, facilitated by the mainstream media about what this term meant. As usual, they abandoned responsibility and integrity for clicks and passively reported pox vox on Twitter.
And what was happening on Twitter? That reliable intellectual bunch, millennials, lost their noodle about being likened to cows. Frankie Boyle became one of them.
Frankie was once a comedian on the edge. A Gen X’er, he was a notorious non-partisan roaster. He had no scruples, to Frankie everyone was game, including the disabled child of a reality TV star.
He was almost cancelled.
But he was given a lifeline. After a quiet period Frankie reappeared, an honorary millennial, with a new BBC commission. As he was now employed by the public purse via the BBC, one assumes he was given an offer he couldn’t refuse – join the herd or else! Herd rules: non partisan bad, partisan good. Targets must be right of centre. No centrist bullseyes allowed as they confuse the herd.
After being de-fanged and welcomed into the establishment, this week he unironically objected to being likened to a herd in a purely scientific way. Maybe he was lobotomised as well as hobbled. I suspect there will be a third act in his creative journey.
Next in the scramble for a petty ideological angle, and just in case anyone was thinking of worrying about reality, the go-to national narrative of the self loathing millennial was enlisted; racism! It was decided that calling CV19 “Wuhan” or “Chinese” flu was racist. By this logic, foot and mouth disease is ableist, sleeping sickness discriminates against insomniacs, and Africanized killer bee’s are…oh, yeah, we did that back in February.
Spiked magazine spied an opportunity to resurrect its core Jacobean roots and call for the end of the British constitutional monarchy because it deemed Prince Charles to have “jumped the cue” in getting tested before anyone else deemed more important. To their reckoning, this included an intern’s pet rat which had already been diagnosed with a terminal disease. Their revolutionary agenda is normally well camouflaged with their championing of free speech but under the red white and blue skirts, a scarlet red petticoat is often showing.
Just as the virus was declared a pandemic, emoji feminist – or feminist emoji, Jameela Jamil twondered if corona virus was a “back clap to us from mother nature” for the sins of “moving and consuming and burning”.
Being as mother nature’s favorite sons are the four horsemen of the apocalypse, I rather think that if revengeful back claps were due, it would probably be for the human sin of saving billions of people and from their mother’s amoral reign of terror.
In other reports, mother nature “hit the reset button” as dolphins were spotted in locked down Venice.
The Guardian, so beloved of millennials, tends to be more politically up front and honest than Spiked, so you know exactly what you are getting getting. Or do you? Aristocratic Guardian journo Marina “I am only called Marina Hyde because my real name was too long to fit across a single column in The Sun, where I started out” Hyde, unleashed her inner kraken against Boris Johnson for issuing overly complex instructions liable to confuse simple folk. Things like, “self isolate” and “social distancing”. She didn’t offer up any alternatives but perhaps, “Sit! Stay!” might have been what she was grasping for.
The World Health Organisation then decided to launch a feminist campaign promoting the idea that women are “carrying the burden” of coronavirus in spite of the fact that statistics seem to show greater mortality in men than women. Perhaps by burden, they mean the burden of survival? If so, that’s quite an astonishingly ideological take on the matter.
One thing is clear, coronavirus is not a big enough crisis to eclipse many peoples petty, partisan, peacetime biases. As our Prime Minister Boris Johnson was diagnosed with the virus this weekend, Twitter again erupted with the vented speen of thousands of remainers who have clearly not yet come to terms with the fact that the Brexit mandate was finally honoured. People who, just weeks ago, were entreating others to #BeKind after the suicide of UK TV personality Caroline Flack have this weekend been wishing death on people who simply believe there are other solutions to societal problems than socialism.
On #ShakespeareSunday, it seems apt to suggest that, contrary to Shakespeare, the quality of mercy is very much ideologically strained.