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September 17, 2020
MOSTLY muzzled, muted and now encouraged officially to be socially and physically distant so legitimately distrusting and fearful of each other, we sit in our homes to “keep each other safe” held hostage by a virus or, perhaps more accurately, by a succession of frightening, increasingly authoritarian and totalitarian edicts to combat the spread of COVID-19.
A virus, of course, is something which this generation is now much more likely to associate with cyberspace and digital technology than with human beings and the medical model.
The digital revolution long before this new physical threat had already brought in a different threat we carried around on our person on mobile devices, on laptops and mainframe computers which technophobes like me felt intimidated by so we responded blindly, obediently and almost dutifully to the increasingly manically directive and didactic prompts of digital devices which we neither understood nor particularly liked but had become hopelessly dependent upon and addicted to and simply no longer could live without.
A life without high-speed access to soothing but addling look-but-don’t-touch pornography featuring people enjoying secret thrills who might live close to us but who in our communities maintained a different persona, the ability to present a fantasy self which never gets contradicted or challenged as it would in real life and the myriad opportunities for unlimited information, entertainment and uncensored and uncontrolled opining became, in our minds, not worth living.
That dependence and addiction to drunkenly motoring faster and faster along our new communication and information high-speed highway and the increasingly medicalising routines and pay-offs which separated us further and further from humanity while seductively blitzing us with glitzy gold-plated guarantees to satisfy our baser instincts with greater and greater risk and reward on betting sites and a wild, whacky wilderness of digital hellholes has made us less certain of ourselves, of our humanity and of our communal links to each other and our need for old-fashioned fraternity and fellowship.
We signed a Faustian pact without bothering to read the small-print, giving consent unthinkingly and unconditionally to the cyber authoritarians who wrote the codes and who didn’t ever stop to think while ramping up the authoritarian tone in their increasingly dictatorial edicts and demeaning auto, shrill, sterile barked orders designed to, surprise, surprise, “keep us safe” while enjoying ourselves buying, selling and browsing online.
So now we find ourselves trying to “keep safe” in real life in isolated, socially distant and avoidant “bubbles” totally and toxically dependent on the technology which was meant to enhance, uplift and enable.
Our children are denied education and the freedom to associate and play normally; draconian changes to law deny us the safety of a second opinion on whether or not we are mad; mask fundamentalism stigmatises the mentally ill and those with illnesses which prevent them from covering up their offending orifices; a dangerous divide gets regularly reinforced by a mushrooming band of uniformed or high-visibility jacketed pseudo officials with pseudo powers neither understood nor respected by most who “patrol” with menacing new powers to curb and control natural behaviour using curfews, closures, and clampdowns, while practically offering us only spiralling fines and threats of jail but never empathy, sympathy or emotional intelligence or, Heaven forefend, hands-on help and support.
But we are still safe. God knows, we are still safe.
That shrill, prying, probing and autodidactic language of cyberspace is now the preferred language in real life as neighbours struggle with their consciences about “informing” on others they suspect of being potential law-breakers unaided and neglected by their elected representatives and spiritual leaders.
Elected representatives have failed dismally to collaborate, co-operate communally and convince us that they care personally and any longer want the common good. The craven carping and competitive disputes between UK and different devolved governments in Scotland, Ireland and Wales as well as with the European Union has added only confusion, contradiction and completely understandable suspicion that their own selfish personal agendas for greater power and influence dominate anything more person-centred and noble they may profess deceitfully to stand for.
Spiritual leaders, like their now much too close political partners, are unable any more to separate the person from the process. Their absence and silence, alongside the outrageous and despicable closure of our churches which went unchallenged and unprotested by them alongside the positively evil changes to burial and cremation rules which prevented people from attending funerals and other religious services to pay last respects to others, has been deafening.
A vaccine will not save us now. The damage is too great, too certain and too consolidated.
We have as citizens lost too much in too short a space of time to claw it back. In short, we have lost basic control and connection. But we are still safe and still able to log on.

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