American Consequences - May 2020


Another pernicious result of sheltering in place is that we’re all spending far too much “screen time.” This can have a bad effect on in-person communication. For example, my 16-year-old son told me about a classmate of his who, at the dinner table with his parents, blurted out, “Have you noticed how much the basement where Joe Biden is doing his campaign videos looks like the set for an amateur porn movie?” Mom: [Tuna casserole spit take] And the kid’s dad did not improve the dinner table atmosphere by saying, “Nonsense, son. Amateur porn sets hardly ever have an American flag in the background.” On the upside... Many of us may discover that we look better in a face mask. I do. Maybe strict Muslims are onto something here. Perhaps this is the secret to the burka. Although they really ought to use it on the guys. And I’m thinking that for many guys this could be beneficial to their online dating experience. There are beautiful women out there seeking an attractive match, and maybe they’ll start going, “Oooo... look ... He’s got a N95 mask! Swipe right!” With the use of Zoom, we could go beyond online dating. We could achieve online marriage , which would have certain advantages, such as “Internet in-laws.” Spam- block that brother-in-law ! Plus, guys would get to raise their kids via videoconference. You can mute them any time you like...

But where will babies come from? Probably where a lot of them come from already – the UPS man. Maybe, along with a change in the status of marriage and family, the pandemic will bring a change in social status. People who used to be the upper crust are looking more and more like nothing but a bunch of crumbs who stick together, hunkered down in their summer houses learning to live without domestic help. Former Wall Street “Masters of the Universe” are boning up on the Chapter 11 chapter in their old business school textbook. If you’re used to having people bow and scrape to you, now is not the time to be an oil baron, CEO of J.Crew, or the captain of a Carnival Cruise Line ship. A new elite is emerging, a different kind of aristocracy that we all look up to and to whom we all owe the greatest respect and deference... “We’re so proud of our son at Yale – he’s studying to be a grocery store checkout clerk.” One more deep thought: I suppose we get the crisis we deserve. Before the coronavirus outbreak, our nation was deeply divided. Americans were becoming painfully separated by ideology and culture. It seemed as if we were losing touch with each other. A crisis is supposed to bring people together... And now we get a crisis that keeps people six feet apart. Guys would get to raise their kids via videoconference. You can mute them any time you like.


May 2020

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