Everything is kind of shit at the moment.
Climate change is increasing at an alarming rate and we have something like a decade before the damage to our planet is irreversible; politics is the absolute worst it could get, both at home in the UK and abroad; fascism and xenophobia are on the rise; and coronavirus is seemingly everywhere. Of course, it hasn’t helped that the chaos caused by coronavirus has kicked up a gear after the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic a few days ago.
It’s impossible to ignore it, too. Ten years ago, when swine flu-induced terror gripped the nation, it seems like it was a lot less intense. While in large part that seems due to the fact I was ten years old, it was also because as a global society, we were far less interconnected than we are now. Technology, the internet, and social media have developed in leaps and bounds over the past decade, and while that has allowed us to forge connections that span continents and oceans, it has also meant that when bad things happen – such as the Australian wildfires of winter 2019-20 – and everyone feels compelled to add their 2 cents on the matter(s), it can feel like we’re being inundated with danger and tragedy all the time.
With all that going on, it’s no wonder that COVID-19-induced anxiety is also on the increase; people are feeling overwhelmed, fearful, sad, angry and helpless. I don’t blame them. Somehow, Europe has become the epicentre for coronavirus, despite – of course – its origins in Wuhan (some 5,000 miles away), and of course, it doesn’t help that the World Health Organisation has criticised the United Kingdom’s response to the epidemic. In case you weren’t aware, B*ris J*hnson’s plan is to allow the nation to develop “herd immunity” to COVID-19; this means that the government will effectively allow people to get the illness, in the hope that they will develop immunity to it, so that we become protected against it by our natural immune system. If this has any chance of working – which, by the government’s own admission, it may not – then anywhere between 60-70% (and maybe more) of the population will need to have been infected.
I’ve been numb and a bit deflated over the past few days. On Friday (13th), my university declared that the Easter holiday would be brought forward by a week, as all teaching is suspended in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Varsity has also been cancelled (which I’m gutted about, as it’s my final year and my last opportunity to go as a student), and summer graduation has been indefinitely delayed. If Grad Ball gets cancelled too, I’m going to lose my shit.
In light of all that, I thought it’d be helpful to draw attention to some good things that have happened over the past couple of weeks. The world may be going to shit, but that doesn’t mean our mood has to.
1. Spring has sprung! We’ve had a long, dry, weird winter, but I think it’s safe to say that spring is finally here. It’s been getting ever-so-slightly warmer (meaning I can start leaving my scarf at home and show off my beautiful bright green “boyfriend coat” in all its glory), and flowers are blossoming.
2. With the decline of tourism, particularly in southeast Asia, animals that are usually fed by them are struggling for food. While you might expect them to go scavenging, these monkeys in Thailand have gone all-West-Side-Story and have formed rival gangs to fight over what food there is.
3. Harvey Weinstein the Rapist has been sentenced to 23 years in prison. His accusers began the #MeToo movement that seems to have changed the way we talk about sexual assault. Three years later, the eighty survivors can breathe a sigh of relief as he will spend more than two decades behind bars.
4. This little girl dressed up as Miss Trunchbull (from Matilda by Roald Dahl) for World Book Day (5th March) and it’s simultaneously adorable and extremely intimidating. Matilda herself also approves.
5. After the city went into lockdown, schools in Wuhan began to use a Google Classroom-style app to continue teaching. However, the children clocked that apps with low ratings were removed from the app store, so a bunch of them spammed it with one star reviews, and the app was taken down.
6. Over in France, they’re throwing caution to the wind by holding a Smurf rally.
7. In the Muslim community, we use lotas (pronounced “lotta” [like “lot of”]) to clean ourselves when we go to the loo at home, as cleanliness is a big part of the religion. In light of the toilet paper shortage, Adil Ray OBE advised using a lota, to which one Twitter user argued that tea was not a high priority.
8. The Tampon Tax has been abolished!
9. Mexico are considering closing the US border, to keep cases of coronavirus low in their own country as cases increase in the latter.
10. However, it’s not all good news. British culture took a hard blow two weeks ago when Chesham Dogging cancelled all meetups for the forseeable future. On a serious note, do check out the actual Twitter account because it’s incredible.
I hope these stories have made you smile, chuckle, or even breathe a little bit more air out of your nose. Everything’s kind of awful at the moment, and while it’s important to stay aware of what’s going on in order to protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s also important to take care of yourself and your mental health. We’re all in this together.