2021 isn’t looking a hell of a lot more promising than 2020, is it? Just another vast, fuzzy space of days where even my sweatpants feel a little snug.
The pandemic rages on, with death counts and variants vying for headlines with governmental politics over the vaccine. There was a coup attempt on the White House, Trumpism is an actual thing, the oceans are dying, and our trip two months from now has already been cancelled.
It’s fucking January.
To the point: We watched two films this weekend. The New Mutants, and The Social Dilemma. Rather different, on the surface. A bunch of powerful teens held hostage after they’ve killed various people, and big tech heads coming forward to talk about the extremely disturbing outcome of the development of social media.
But what occurred to me is that the baseline for both is fear. The New Mutants suggests that your fears are real, and harmful, and terrifying. And if you don’t get hold of them, they will destroy you and those close to you. The Social Dilemma spoke about fake news, about government abuse of AI algorithms, about conspiracy theorists…things based on using people’s deepest fears to feed them more of the same.
Fear is destructive. Fear of the other, fear of losing control, fear of someone taking what you have…it pits us against ourselves and one another. But the other thing these movies reminded me of is that we’re not alone. The kids reached out to one another, kept each other safe. Their differences brought them together and gave them a (deeply traumatised) chosen family. The Social Dilemma shows that people will come forward and speak the truth. They’ll set up ways to make things better, to let the light of knowledge in, to begin taking steps to make things right. And, maybe, when we’re ready we’ll take our place beside them, and those darling destructive teenagers.
And maybe we’ll turn that conglomeration of ugly oozing fear into a way forward.
Reach out. Dark times can swallow you whole as the fear bares it’s teeth and roars at you. Bare yours, and roar back. Take someone’s figurative hand (no touching!), and help one another stumble forward into the light.
I’ll meet you there.