I’ll keep this brief because I don’t feel great about preaching willful ignorance, and I think that’s what I’m about to do.
When the COVID shutdown started, I found myself spending every second I could plugged into my phone, scrolling Twitter and refreshing the New York Times app for the latest on the spread of the virus, its effects, its presumed causes, and what I was supposed to be doing about it. For a while, it felt like keeping as tuned in to the news as possible was the only option I had for staying connected to the world around me, stuck as I was inside my apartment.
All things considered, I had a really nice weekend this past weekend. The weather was beautiful, my wife wasn’t working, we got fancy-pants pizza from Emmy Squared and had a picnic in the park, I met up with a former co-worker for a social-distanced walk, and both evenings, my family made it to a nearby corner where people (safely) congregate and dance around huge speakers that blast festive music for the daily 7 p.m. clap. We’re settled into this grim groove now.
Yesterday, while my kid entertained himself with puzzles and his sandbox, I actually read a book. It was novel in multiple senses of the term. I normally only read fiction before bed, and though the book itself was a heartbreakingly bleak one, the act of reading it still proved a whole lot more pleasant than seeing people on Twitter shame strangers for not following the rules of the ‘rona.
This morning, I woke up early and opened the Times app out of habit. The first story I read told of how children who’ve been infected with COVID-19 sometimes develop mysterious, comprehensive and devastating side-effects. Later, while I waited for my kid to use the potty so we could go outside, I checked Twitter and read a long and well-intentioned but scold-y thread about how young adults who may think they’re safe from the disease will in fact die painful, lonely deaths if they don’t distance themselves. When my kid drew in chalk on a park path, I checked my phone and saw a notification with the phrase “relentless crush of infection and death.”
Maybe I’m good on the news for a while? I know I’m going to hear about it if and when somebody cures this godawful thing, and I don’t need to see a million articles and tweets explaining why I should avoid getting the coronavirus because I’m already doing my damnedest to avoid getting the coronavirus. I feel comfortable assuming that the president is taking precisely all the worst and dumbest and greediest actions imaginable in the face of the pandemic, and I certainly don’t need to read about that every day.
I know I’m not good enough to completely divorce myself from the news. I know I’m going to check Twitter. I know I’m going to click on some of the alerts that pop up on my phone. But am I wrong to start consciously trying to avoid those things? I’m just tired of what they have to offer right now.
So, uhh, anyone know any good books?