The Fear of the Fear is Getting Fearsome

Subtitle: Despite the fact that it might sound like I’m pooh-poohing the whole coronavirus hysteria, I really just wish to draw attention to our species’ fear of the unknown.

They, the ubiquitous, hard to define and evil they, are always trying to scare us. Some of what they use is real. Other times they try to scare us with totally fake nonsense. Go ahead, call me crazy. You wouldn’t be the first.

We’re living in conspiratorial times, my friends. That makes it hard to differentiate between what’s real and what’s Twitter, but, on the bright side, it does make talking to people much more interesting. I’ve heard this “pandemic” blamed on China, Russia, Trump, Nancy Pelosi, the head of the NIH, a janitor at the NIH, a disaffected recently-fired worker at the NIH, that plastic Facebook guy with the social skills of the world’s least cuddly Muppet, and the post office. I think my favorite, and by “favorite” I mean least plausible, is the post office. I love the thought of a tight-knit group of angry postal workers sitting around a darkened table in a deserted bar plotting world domination while wearing blue short shorts.

I’m not saying that it’s not real. I’m sure it IS real. Ireland doesn’t cancel St. Patrick’s Day unless it’s real. Venice doesn’t kick gondoliers to the shores unless it’s real. But is the virus real or is it just the fear that’s real? Is it real but waaaaaayyyy overblown? Is it entirely bullshit? The world may never know. disclaimerEven if there’s a tiny possibility that overreaction is the operative theme in the coronavirus story, please pay particular attention to the section below that basically says to stay inside and wash your hands! The text of the famous FDR line from his 1933 inaugural address was, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.” We should take those words to heart.

I heard he was going to say, “…the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself…and touching our faces, and a worldwide toilet paper shortage, and Chinese people, and attending basketball games, and ya know, pretty much everything else.” Apparently, someone gave him some good editing advice.

The great thing about conspiracies is that they are fun to think about. The bad thing is that most people blame problems on people and institutions they already hate. The other bad thing is they’re hard to untangle, damn near impossible to know anything real about. The other, other bad thing is, thanks to those moronic rectangles everyone carries around in their pockets, they’ve gone mainstream.

Real or not, crazy or sane, Purell fantasy or actual pandemic, it’s probably not going to hurt you to stay inside for a few weeks and wash your hands.

This coronavirus could be 100% real. It could be media hype. It’s probably somewhere in between. This could be a test case to see how people react, a trial run for something scarier than the uncommon cold. I don’t know. But I know this for sure, the fear is real. We’re now afraid of wiping our butts with paper towels. Sure, it’s not something soft enough for baby angels to wipe their butts with, but it still accomplishes what you want to accomplish. The modern rectum has had it too good for too long. Ask your grandparents what the secondary use for the Sears catalog was sometime. It’ll make you appreciate how good you’ve got it now that our fears have trended away from having 8 stillborn children and toward not being able to go to basketball games.