Yes, But What Does JOHN SCALZI Think of This Moment?
Posted on April 5, 2020 Posted by John Scalzi 6 Comments
Because I once wrote a book about a global viral pandemic, I was asked by my local newspaper to prognosticate about what changes we will see from the coronavirus in the future. I answered largely in generalities, because that’s the sort of interview it was. You may find the interview at this link.
Space suits. Lots and lots of space suits.
In the article you mentioned about people maybe not gathering together at big events any more, but after 9/11 we were all “Maybe we shouldn’t have Super Bowls (or whatever :) ), and then we went right back to all that.
For the “Captain America” aspect, there’s already a plausible “economic substitution” in view of the existence of TV and similar networks (Amazon Prime, Netflix). If theatres “die”, that doesn’t eliminate TV-like technologies, it enables them, perhaps making subscription services flourish.
Restaurants are showing off the curious thing; there are places where, despite the dining room being closed, the kitchens remain busy. It is interesting (of course frightening, for those with a stake in the matter!) to consider that perhaps dining room staff might become a lost industry, and people bring meals home more in the long run.
The healthcare aspect is also curious. I see there being two directions for America to choose from:
a) If America “doubles down” on its present approach, where health care receives its subsidies via employer health plans, then we can expect America to transform further into a class structure unlike the nobility-oriented structure we recall from Europe, where, in America, the “nobility” will be the diminishing set of Haut Scions of the major corporations that have meaningful healthcare, versus the “peasant muck” that don’t.
b) The main alternative, as you suggest, is something more community-oriented. That is, of course, going to be maligned as being socialist or communist. Unfortunately, if such criticisms are taken to heart, I think we can pretty much expect expansion of the Corporate Nobility. It won’t get called that, but still will be so.
I suspect a lot of social life will continue to move online – your virtual book tour (whatever form it takes) may be forced on you this year, but I can imagine it becoming a part of any book tour in future years. Concerts, plays – much more may be broadcast online in future.
At least we won’t be having any mass shootings for awhile…how’s that for a silverish lining?
M.A., I wouldn’t rule them out entirely. Some people who are working hard to keep the infection from spreading are getting pretty pissed off at others who seem to think the rules don’t apply to them. From kids playing basketball to people going to beaches (yes, still!) and parks to churches holding services (today in Sacramento, earlier in the week in Georgia and Florida) to people still thronging coffee shops in Arizona (according to a family member who lives there and says they do not yet have a stay-home order), to the fish market in Southeast D.C. (https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/dc-closes-the-wharf-after-large-crowds-gather-despite-stay-at-home-order/2264826/), where there is a stay-home order, there are still large groups of people gathering. It wouldn’t surprise me if some person crazed by grief, anger, and/or a sense of extreme righteousness, especially if they have seriously ill, dying, or dead family members, decided to take out idiots who either don’t know or don’t care that getting together in groups could cause people to get sick and possibly die. I doubt it will be a widespread reaction, and maybe it won’t happen at all, but as the stress of this situation affects people’s mental health more and more, it would not surprise me.