Hacks and Quacks (Plague, Day 140, July 20, 2020)

I rarely interact on Facebook anymore, but last week, I vented. I wrote,

COVID rates are up, because people didn’t wear masks. Which means that teachers and professors will refuse to go back. And that means women won’t be able to go back to work, which will permanently destroy their careers. The entire economy will struggle, because half their workforce is home teaching their kids to read. Teenagers will become depressed without school and jobs. The poor, small children, and disabled kids and their families will suffer the most immediately, but the pain will be felt broadly. College students who are struggling academically and economically will drop out and never return. All because of masks.

The post made my friends uncomfortable, because many of them are teachers and professors, and they don’t want me to remind everyone their unwillingness to enter a classroom will have negative impact on poor people, disabled people, and women. But my friends are also sensible people who avoid fights and pretty much ignored what I had to say.

A high school friend shared this post on her wall. She lives in Iowa and Chicago, and is interior decorator that works for the super-rich of the midwest. She knows a lot of people. And they all went bananas.

A number of them simply did not believe that masks would help stop the spread of the virus and, in fact, were utterly convinced that the masks were poisonous, evil objects. They said that no mask would ever be put on their kids’ faces. Their rants went beyond the “freedom” argument for not wearing a mask. There was something supernatural about these objects, according to the commenters on this post, and these women hyperlinked to some quacks who supported their point of view.

According to the New York Times, some people are now saying that they won’t get a COVID vaccination, when it happens, because vaccines have already been branded as witchcraftery.

If the right has its mask-witchcraft, then the left has its own mobs trolling Twitter looking for Karens to burn at the stake. Has everyone gone crazy?

In the midst of this increasingly insane world, I have to figure out what will happen to my boys in two months. Both desperately need to go back to school, but the Magic Eight Ball tells me that school is doubtful.

I need to pull together my backup plans for Ian. I’m lining up tutors for the fall. I need to reserve them now, before they get totally booked up. Jonah’s school is going to be totally online, but I’m still sending him to an empty dorm; he needs to be around peers. I am so exhausted that I’m turning down writing gigs, but I have to start creating my own school and college for the boys.

I’m hearing stories from other friends. One friend, whose daughter goes to Harvard, said that parents are pissed, because the college will be totally online and, at the same time, the school is raising tuition. Parents at Harvard don’t want to pay more, for less schooling. But they are totally open to spending money in other ways. They are reserving Air BnB’s for their kids and their friends in cool places like Colorado or Canada. They kids will do their virtual classes in a cabin in the woods.

There are hacks to get around the inconveniences of the pandemic. And the upper middle class and the rich are figuring it out. Their kids will get educated. Their jobs are intact. Their stock portfolios are doing better than ever. They are insulated from the mobs, the uneducated rants, the breadlines, the gun violence, the record crime rates, the conspiracy theories, and the quacks.

Hacks on one side, quacks on the other.