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I have visited the outside world more than I care too recently. Unfortunately, our fun and freeing nature trips have been postponed due to chronic health conditions that seem unphased by the pandemic. Yet are phased by the break from common medical practice I have taken.

My lack of modern self-care has not been affected by the virus but instead influenced by society as a whole, yet I keep tight lips and let them assume my mental state. It is easier and far less traumatic to explain to the people who hold my quality of life in their hands. I let them assume some kind of agoraphobia rather than expressing the fact humanity has presented itself as far less… human.

On our trips into the public eye, in the unfortunate event, I have no option to leave my children in the safety net of a loved one’s home, we try to make the best from a less than ideal situation. In between appointment times, we have frequently stopped at a playground in hopes of escaping the unrelenting pressure in our chest that being stuck in a room full of terrified and tired people has caused.

The Children

I suppose the saddest changed in society is not the people who have been displaced in their lives, but instead the young minds that have known nothing but this life. The little ones that act purely amazed, for lack of a better word, other small people are out there.

My youngest is absolutely amazed by tiny babies, as though he thought the world was full of only the older generations and people bigger than him. Every time we see a public park, he usually finds the littlest person on the playground and works hard to interact. I stay close by but distanced and keep a firm eye out for a distressed parent that brought their child to a playground but did not want them to interact with other children. It sounds silly, but this is the case more often than I would like to admit.

Sometimes as I stand back and let the children be children, I see other wandering eyes watching for the same thing. At times we share a smile or a nod as if entering into some kind of agreement that we will not run to the children and try to disinfect the entire playground just because our kids brush up against one another.

The younger children don’t remember the days of pre-pandemic, and even my oldest hears stories of things we once did or memories recalled in a conversation but holds no firm memories of his own. Most commonly remembering them like a dream he once had, and when he asked, “when can we do that again?” we share saddened looks among the adults. Not only do we not know the answer, but we are unsure there is one.

Being All Grown Up

The only advantage we so commonly feel, being an adult in the world we now know, is the illusion of freedom. We stand up proudly and demand our rights to meander about the public freely. When they lift lock-down, we cheer, only to realize every store has limited hours and regulations have tightened. Leaving the only way to celebrate our win being we drive around, and with the gas prices so conveniently rising again, soon that will no longer be a valid option either.

The faces of the sick have been removed from the TV only to flaunt the drunken idea that the cure is working. Blatant errors are arising in the statistics, but without being pushed in front of the public eye, no one seems to notice. Those who do are usually belittled into conspiracy theorists before they can finish a sentence and removed from any popular media source as “Violating community agreements.”

Our rights have been shrunken, our beliefs have been deemed unimportant, and we, the people, have been dehumanized into different sectors to maintain peace and control. They tell us to protect ourselves then ask us to relinquish our weapons. They tell us to eat but only allow us their food. They tell us we should come together, then point out all the ways we are different.

Society as a whole has been broken down into categories, and each class has its evils pointed out. They no longer need to fight the masses, for we are now fighting each other. Neighbors are scared, and crimes are being committed in the name of equality to people in our own neighborhoods.

It seems nowhere is safe from the judgment placed upon each of us by our government. The media exploits these differences and glorifies the evil committed. Yet, we are simply a sea of eyes with labels placed above our heads—grand gestures made by the government to support the direction they want our country to lead. If you obey their request, you’re treated like a child who did a good deed and was given a prize.

If you refuse, you are hidden from the light of society. Some fight this concept, while others like me would rather hide in the shadows. We stick to ourselves with minimal contact with those who serve the government’s greater good and live as much as we can in isolation. When deemed necessary, we place our masks and labels in the light like everyone else and keep our visits short.

Everyone Is Lost

Those who wear bright smiles seem to be most in the shadows. People who were once surrounded by society don’t know how to be alone, and the people who were once introverts don’t know how to engage in the community when it is mandatory. Mental health is on the downfall, and those who claim to be the happiest are usually the most lost. Professionals in these areas are book out for months, and the ones who need the most help are calling daily only to find out they are not a priority.

More people are lead to social media and an online source of engagement. Poets pour their souls out in beautifully typed words only to submit it to a flooded market and not be seen. Artists show priceless works of art from our generation only to be distracted from by an advertisement for toilet paper. We had looked outwards for so long that when we were forced to look inward, most found they did not like what they saw.

We The People

We have become a sea of eyes and Times New Roman font, put neatly into little boxes and paid off by pieces of paper that mean so much now but will mean our ultimate demise in the future. We have nothing left to leave for our children. Bias media sources have labeled our dignity and erased the past so much that we follow our ancestors’ footsteps. Every reminder of what we accomplished has been taken down and deemed discriminatory. The lives lost mean nothing, and the people who died for the very rights we take advantage of every day have been forgotten.

We have done this before, but we had fewer weapons, less reason to hate, and a positive goal in mind. Sadly this is not the case. As time moves on, we burn the bridges we worked so hard to build. We laugh in the face of history and doom ourselves to repeat it. We, the people, have been molded into plastic game pieces, and the powers that be watch as we fight against each other and are distracted from the dirty deeds they do.

There is only one question left to ask…

How will it all end?