Opinion

Dispatches From Isolation Vol 1

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Posted: Mar 22, 2020 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Dispatches From Isolation Vol 1

Source: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Being a columnist and talk show host, you’re always on the lookout for things to write/talk about. Some weeks there are a lot, some you’re at a loss and resort to big picture topics or random thoughts you think are worthy of exploring. Now, in this time, there’s no lack of things that meet all of those criteria. The problem is the opposite – there’s too much to write about, so much to say. Rather than pick a lane, from time to time I’ve decided to hog the road while we all travel through this tunnel. Parts of it won’t hit with you, others may help you realize that, even in isolation, we’re not alone.

Columns in this series will be a bit of a hodgepodge, jumping from topic to topic, random thoughts and ideas. Writing 3 columns per week gives me a lot of space to explore things deeply. It doesn’t really afford the opportunity to simply state things plainly. Sometimes you don’t have 700 words worth of things to say on a topic (the minimum for a column). If 200 are enough, you’re left with the choice of adding filler and long quotes – stretching it out to meet the minimum and watering it down to the point it’s tough to read – or scraping the whole thing. With this, I won’t have to.

We’re all alone together

Isolation is weird. I’m not alone, none of us aren’t alone. I have my wife and kids, and cats. Phones work, video chatting is possible, and there’s nothing stopping anyone from getting in a car and going to someone else’s house, or having people over. I’m just not about to do that, or allow that. Were I single, no problem. If I didn’t have kids, my wife and I would likely go to another childless couple’s house. But those thoughts are about as relevant as which private island I’d jet off to if I were filthy rich because I’m not single and we do have kids.

It’s amazing how having kids changes everything. I knew this already – when you spend your life desperately trying to avoid making one, then you go and do it on purpose, things have changed – but the coronavirus isolation gave everything a new perspective. I’ve always washed my hands, never like I was prepping for surgery every time I leave the house. Throwing my clothes into the washing machine as soon as I come home from a trip to the store is new. It’s also paranoid, I know that, as is wiping down everything I bought with Clorox wipes and opening Amazon boxes outside so I don’t bring cardboard into the house.

Strangest of all, it seems weirdly normal in terms of what I have to do to protect the family. It takes time, a lot of time, but it’s not an inconvenience. My parents never had to do anything like this, but they would have. They did things that didn’t register at the time, many still haven’t, but I now know the list includes everything, whatever is necessary.

The collective moment

The closest thing people not alive when John F. Kennedy was assassinated have to a “where were you when you heard” moment is 9/11. The mixture of anger and sorrow was near universal, but it was also temporary. Members of Congress spontaneously breaking out in “God Bless America” on the Capitol steps was something most of us won’t forget. But not long after, they forgot; the spirit, at least.

The country soon settled back into the same old ruts and the blame game started. That moment was fleeting. I have a friend at the time named Gloria who, by that Friday, started with the, “We deserved it because of the horrible things this country has done” garbage and we never spoke again. Fleeting.

This time is different because we’re all experiencing the same thing for an extended period and very differently. We’ll have stories to entertain each other and bore our kids with in the future no one else will have. It’s small comfort now, but remember how satisfying it seemed to the people who regaled you with “When I was young” stories about how easy you had it when you were a kid? Now we have something to hang over the heads of future generations.

Sometimes you have to take the small victories.

TDS is immune 

Have I mentioned lately how awful the media is? Even if I have, it’s worth repeating. They really are terrible.

It’s to the point right now that it is impossible to tell if many outlets and reporters are willing tools, on the take from communist China, or too dumb to realize they’re doing China’s bidding for free. Trump Derangement Syndrome has these fools obsessing over why anyone would call a virus that comes from Wuhan, China, a name that notes it came from Wuhan, China.

What hole must you live in to think people wouldn’t notice you’re echoing the propaganda of the people responsible for this mess? The people who could’ve contained it, or at least asked for help containing it? If you’re going to sell you soul, you should get the cash upfront. But these people did it for ratings and politics. How gross.

A special kind of stupid

By now you’ve likely seen the video of spring breakers refusing to quit partying in the face of a pandemic because, well, they’re morons. They’ve waited all year to act like idiots on the beach, as compared to acting like idiots where they spend the rest of their year. How embarrassed must their parents be? With this isolation, a lot of people are about to find out what kind of kids they raised.

I hope, when those morons return from Florida, their parents refuse to let them in the house. If 14 days of sleeping on their stoner buddy’s couch, eating ramen noodles and Doritos while applying anti-crabs shampoo to their nether regions doesn’t enlighten them to the fact that they might need to make some life changes, nothing will. Better they (and everyone else) find out now so we can avoid them like the plague, even after the plague.

Social distancing has its rewards

Remember hugging people? Not people you care about, but random people? I’ve always hated that “It was so good to meet you” hug, either with both arms from women or the half handshake, half bro-hug from guys. If I don’t know you, I don’t want to hug you, and there’s a pretty good chance I don’t want to hug you even if I do know you. We’re too loose with the hugs, if you ask me. Not anymore; now we have to prioritize hugs. I’m OK with that.

Little girls scream a lot (and for no good reason)

We have two girls, one almost three, the other one-and-a-half. They don’t have any idea what’s going on. With no concept of time, they are unaware of how long it’s been since we took a family trip to the store. I’ve always known they scream – while playing, while running – but they also scream for no good reason. And they’re loud. It’s pretty funny, except while trying to have a conversation. Kids are great.

Congress is trying to do two things it does horribly

This is obviously a special set of circumstances, and Congress is going to act. They’re going to try to save the economy; to do good, and do it quickly. History has shown they do neither of those things well. Here’s to hoping they manage to pull off simultaneously what they aren’t very successful at doing individually.

Dining in the post-apocalyptic world

There are no food shortages, there’s massive food consumption. Or at least purchasing. I suspect people won’t need to buy canned goods or toilet paper for a year when this is done. This will lead to some creative cookbooks, with the majority of recipes featuring canned tuna. Call it, “Unique Gourmet: Eating by Expiration Date.”

Remember: numbers matter

Even I, having written a book about how the media manipulates people, still fall for the manipulation in times like this. It’s weird: turn on one network and you feel pretty good about things, turn on another and you’re loading your gun, preparing to head for the hills. You’d think they could just be honest. People can handle the truth.

So, here’s a little truth. Numbers matter. No one can change the numbers, they’re just numbers, but how they’re framed matters. If, say, the number of deaths is 100, and the next day the total is 110, there are two ways to frame that. First, just say “10 more.” This is accurate and to the point. In a nation of 330 million people, where thousands die every day, 10 is sad but not an epidemic.

The second option, the more manipulative one, is to use percentages. “A 10 percent increase in deaths overnight” is much more terrifying in a nation of 330 million people. Both are accurate, one paints an unnecessarily freighting picture. Beware of people pushing percentages; they’re pushing something else too.

That’s it for this dispatch, I’ll be back soon enough with another. Think of it as a rolling, random blog occasionally making an appearance here. I don’t know where any of this will ultimately go, but I do know we’ll get through it.

Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!), host of a daily radio show on WCBM in Maryland, and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter