Silhouette of a man standing in the middle of a dark road

There were many Orwellian phrases pumped into the brains of the populace in 2020. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard two weeks to flatten the curve and social distancing. However, the most disturbing phrase of 2020 was definitely “We are all in this together.” Used in every advertisement and government message, it was a deceptive, narrative lie. Two years later, we see that we are only in this together, so long as everyone complies. It was a phrase that set the stage for creating an other for society to turn against. We were never in this together, but don’t ever believe the lie that you are in this alone.

It was the summer of 2020, and Chicago was in lockdown. You know what the hardest part of a two-week lockdown is? The first three months. Lori Lightfoot’s blatant hypocrisy spoke volumes to her empty words. Everything was shutdown. My friends were terrified. I thought long, hard and critically about what we were seeing. I read papers and charted data myself, only to find more questions than answers. I hadn’t seen a single friend in months. South Loop had nightly lockdown parties; people DJing music and flashing strobe lights from their balconies every night at 8pm.

A busker was singing True Colors outside my building one evening. People cheered. I almost cried. I took the elevator down to thank him. I asked if I could give him a hug, and he said yes. It was the first real contact I had all summer. When I told a friend in New Zealand, she said I was an asshole. I told her the story about Jesus touching the lepers when the Pharisees would cross the street to avoid them, yelling “unclean.” She informed me Jesus could walk on water. Parables are a difficult concept for some.

On May 1st, Chicago imposed mask mandates. A month later, a good friend of mine overseas lost someone to suicide from the lockdowns. The Kiwi, who had previously called me an asshole, stopped talking to me. When I asked other friends if I was going crazy, the conversation was often short, and resulting in them no longer talking to me. A YouGov survey conducted in August of 2021 showed that 20% of people had lost friendships over disagreements over COVID-191. I stopped contacting many of my friends, because I didn’t want to talk about this era with anyone, out of fear our beliefs would be irreconcilable. I assumed I’d talk to them in a few months, after this entire thing had blown over. We are now two years in, with no end in sight.

Of the very few people I would hang out with for the rest of my time in Chicago, one moved to Wisconsin, and another left the country. VivaFrei, one of my favorite legal analyst, usually tells his audience to “check in on friends and family,” at the end of his videos. I left the city without saying goodbye, outside a very tiny group of people. The vast majority of my friends from Chicago, did not once contact me.

Being Left Alone

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter, punks are running wild in the streets, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air’s unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit and watch our TVs while some local newscaster tells us today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We all know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like every thing’s going crazy. So we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we live in gets smaller, and all we ask is please, at least leave us alone in our own living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my hair-dryer and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything, just leave us alone.” -Network (1976, film)

Most of us just want to be left alone, to do our own thing. There’s a reason why some families in America ban religion and politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table. It’s always that one dude at barbecue who keeps going on about some politician in office or some injustice in the news, when everyone else just wants to eat hotdogs and talk about sports, music, or an old movie everyone should watch.

“…I got vaccinated, and people took me to task for that, and I thought, ‘I’ll get the damn vaccine.’ Here’s the deal guys. I’ll get the vaccine. You fucking leave me alone. And did that work? No. So stupid me. You know, that’s how I feel about it … I have to get tested for COVID when I come back into Canada … so why did I get the vaccine then if you’re not going to leave me alone2 -Jordan Peterson

We are in an era where we were told for over a year to be alone and isolated, and yet no one would truly leave us alone. Transnational news media fed us a constant stream of conflicting garbage. There was a time when people could simply avoid the topic of politics, and ignore people at parties who wouldn’t shut up about it. But now those opinions, on controversial and nuanced topics, are razor blades. They can cut through the strongest bonds of friendship and family.

“Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against his mother, a daughter-in-law-against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’“ -Matthew 10:34-36

A Smaller World

In November of 2020, I drove to the free state of South Dakota, one of the few places in America that never shutdown or imposed any serious restrictions. There were signs and warnings up, as with the rest of America and the world. Still, at least in the local pubs, things seemed to be normal. That is, so long as you avoided watching the football game on TV with cardboard cutouts filling in for spectators.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

I currently live far from large cities. For the most part, COVID doesn’t really affect the day-to-day life of Americans that do not live in New York City, Chicago, DC, San Francisco or other areas that have reinstated, and doubled down on, insane policies. I am very thankful I moved from Australia and New Zealand, where the situation seems to still be deteriorating, and many of my friends overseas seem to be perfectly okay with it.

Even though COVID should no longer affect the day-to-day lives of people out here, a significant number of masked shoppers can still be found in stores in small town America. A lot of events still haven’t started back up yet. There is a general feeling of uneasiness of people around rural areas, because they see the rest of the world and know it’s only a matter of time before the mind virus bleeds into our region.

The world truly feels as if it is growing smaller. As someone who has traveled around the planet, and has a good sense of how massive it is, it’s really shocking to see billions of people beings connected to this one anxious point in human history.

Where Does it End?

In March of 2020, I wrote about how COVID was two diseases. One was from a virus, and the other was a disease of the mind. Our collective cultural immune system went into overdrive, giving us a world far worse than I could have possibly feared at the time. And yet here we are: two years to flatten the curve.

The disease is endemic, the vaccines are questionable, and the media is blatantly lying to us about absolutely everything. When this started, I never imagined that in two years, medical totalitarianism would spread through many of the world’s developed nations. I never thought we’d be on the verge of burning witches.

I had no idea how many people would simply stop talking to each other. This one era has divided people on this planet more than any other single event in human history. Yet no matter how much big tech and big media try to censor it, people have been getting videos and messages out about massive protests against medical mandates and passports.

If you know where to look for it on the corners of the Internet, routing around the damage of censorship, you will find you are clearly not alone. The people and industries that are taking advantages of this situation want us separated, isolated, alone and scared. And many people are terrified, and believe everyone else should be scared as well.

We were never in this together. Half of our voices have slowly been removed from digital town squares. Prophets were labeled conspiracy theorists and deniers. The mobs with the pitchforks nail down sacrifices to their new religion.

This cannot last forever. People can either come to their senses, or things will get considerably worse before they get better. We may not really be in this together, but don’t ever let the world trick you into thinking you are alone.

“I am large, I contain multitudes” -Walt Whitman