The left has become addicted to “worry porn”, says Freddie deBoer in his Substack newsletter. Even with omicron, the pandemic is essentially under control – thanks to “remarkably effective” vaccines and soon-to-be-released antiviral drugs, the “vast, vast majority” of the world will survive it. Yet the left is still freaking out. One widely read recent piece in The Atlantic was headlined “I’m starting to give up on post-pandemic life”; another in Vox was titled “The world as we know it is ending”. And this “catastrophising” – which is also a feature of the left’s coverage of Donald Trump – always carries with it “the quiet, throbbing need for the bad dream to come true”. Covid has already been terrible, but liberals “seem desperately to want it to be worse”.
What drives this weird angst? It’s not public health: the last thing anti-vaxxers need is more people shouting at them. My hunch is that it’s “competition”. The liberal educated masses compete against each other “relentlessly, habitually, ritualistically” – at school, at work, with their children. And Covid has presented dedicated liberals with an opportunity to be more virtuous than their peers. “If caution is noble, overcaution must be even nobler.” Doom-saying over the virus essentially became another “I Voted” sticker, another Black Lives Matter sign in the window, another way to demonstrate your “greater moral standing”. It’s performative nonsense, and the rest of us shouldn’t be taken in.
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