Earlier this week I was having a conversation with someone on Milo’s rollicking Telegram chat, in which we were trying to figure out the name of a short story involving people living in underground cells, communicating only via the Internet. I had a feeling I had written about it before, but could not remember the name of the story.
Turns out it was E.M. Forster’s novella “The Machine Stops,” originally published in 1909, and I wrote about it in this catch-all post from the early days of The Age of The Virus (so early, in fact, I was not capitalizing the first “the” in that moniker, which I have texted so much, my last phone auto-predicted “The Age of The Virus”). I compared the story to Kipling’s “The Mother Hive”–a story that apparently is assigned regularly in India, because pageviews for it always seem to coincide with large numbers of site visitors from the subcontinent.
But I digress. The story sounded eerily like what our elites asked us to do during The Age of The Virus: stay home, get fat, consume mindless entertainment, and don’t socialize. Granted, some of us could go outside and plant gardens (I still got fat, though), but the messaging was not “become more self-sufficient so we can mitigate disaster” but “buy more stuff and don’t do anything fun.” It was depressing to me how many people embraced this line of reasoning, turning government-mandated sloth into some kind of perverted virtue.
I appreciated the break that The Age of The Virus afforded us, but it came with the severe curtailment of liberty—and Americans ate it up! Instead of people boldly throwing ravers and partying down, laughing at our elites, we instead retreated into our hovels, shuddering in the dark. When I did through a big Halloween bash, it was a massive success—because, I suppose, people had finally had it.
I guess that’s the silver lining. With that, here’s 3 April 2020’s “Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus” (perhaps the longest title of any blog post ever):