• brynnoconnor

An artificial acceptance of the pandemic

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, however with everything going on at the moment, any free time I’ve had has been spent hugging my friends or slamming my head into my very sanitized hands.

I’ll start off by acknowledging that my generation is desensitized to overwhelming news. We’ve grown up in a world where constant news notifications pop up on our cell phone screens every second. We refresh our social media feeds and hear about the tragic happenings of someone or something, somewhere in the world. In our palms, we hold an outlet for the world’s mayhem. This information overload has created us unable to respond appropriately to newsworthy chaos. Often, we look to humor to cope. We make jokes about drastic political events or hashtags pertaining to individuals we do not know, but have read about. We’ve done this for years.

Now in 2020, when the world is undergoing a global pandemic, we don’t know how to act. We are living through something our children will have to write essays about for their history class. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we are currently living in the future’s history. It’s hard to treat things with the same level of seriousness we do for happenings of a time before us. It’s easier to acknowledge the severity of the past. It’s over. There is no need to worry about it, but we can admit and reflect.

But now?

Who wants to recognize the extremity of the situation? Who wants to accept the fact that they are sitting in the making of a global crisis? That’s why it’s so hard to face the situation.

I’ve been pushing coronavirus updates under the rug for months now. I shrugged when reading about situations in China, and figured it would just simply go away; like every other tragic event to happen. It just goes away. That was ignorant, but it was an act of fear I never realized. I wasn’t ignoring the situation because I didn’t care. I was ignoring it because I didn’t know how to behave in events like this. Suddenly this has become something I can’t scroll past.

My school is one of the hundreds across the country that has transitioned to online courses only for the remainder of the spring semester. That means we no longer attend class. The rest of my freshman year will be spent completing tasks via my laptop from the safety of a room secluded from the public. The college administration is fearful of gatherings, even if it’s simply twenty 19 year olds in a small classroom.

My friends are booking flights back home in fear that there will very soon be a time where they won’t be allowed in an airport. I’ve been washing my hands the second I transition rooms, and I refuse to touch any door handle. This is serious. Reality feels altered. I walk down the streets of Boston thinking, this isn’t happening. But it is.

In the next week, I have to decide whether I want to complete my online courses back at my Long Island home, or finish the duration of my semester on campus. Students are packing all around me and hugging the friends they won’t see for another 5 months. At a time where we were just starting to feel comfortable in this new college environment, we’re being advised to leave.

My college isn’t forcing anybody to leave, but many other colleges are. My older sister has no choice but to move out of her apartment to return home at the same time as she cancels her trip to Disney. Universities just a few miles away from me have “generously” granted their students 5 days to pack their belongings and get the hell out. Both the state I’m currently residing in, my home state, and my hometown are in a state of emergency.

My friends and I are all wondering when everything will “die down.” Again, that’s what we’re used to.

When will life return to normal?

My mindset during all of this has been artificial acceptance. I am forcing myself to be okay with everything that is happening. I keep reminding myself that soon, everything will be okay again.

But I don’t know when that will be.

artwork by Nadezhda Ryan

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