Witness to History – 2020

Initially, I thought to recap on some of the histories that occurred concurrently during the lives of certain ancestors. I had done this in several posts when an ancestor only left their vital records behind, but nothing more. Usually, this was my ancestresses, as women’s lives were rarely captured in other types of records.

But it occurs to me that 2020 has made me a witness to history. This year was a rocky road indeed and will likely be referred to for generations.

We started this year off spiraling into the media frenzy surrounding the Coronavirus 2019, or COVID-19, a viral outbreak that began in China. But it wasn’t until March that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

We witnessed hoarding, riots worldwide, the occupation of entire city blocks by dissenters, neighbors snitching on neighbors, unprecedented social shaming from both sides of all arguments, and cancel culture on the rise. The continued growth of social media and it’s destruction of societal norms that foster a culture of cyber-bullying by adults and the increasing spread of an epidemic called stupidity.

COVID continued through the summer to haunt us. The disease’s virility was hotly contested and is a testimony to how widespread political corruption has become.

Attempts to accurately and scientifically track COVID infection rates and maintain a clear separation from other diseases and causes of death were botched right at the start. Statistics became a political tool to be skewed and used to confuse data in reports. As a result, history will never really know the real numbers surrounding the virus. Accusations and counter-accusations left us confused and distrustful. Over-reaction and inaction wreaked havoc on political races, the economy, and our lives.

Seeds of distrust multiplied because reports from larger population zones dictated the rural public health policies. In the country, those that I know personally who contracted COVID described it as the flu and would have lived their lives believing that’s all it ever was, except for their test results. They are thankfully all ok and either recovered or recovering; no hospitalizations were required for any of them.

Predictably, being shut-in and shut-down eventually wore on people. Social injustice crusaders burst into the already tense social situation. Over the summer, we watched multiple cities burning and being looted or pillaged over police brutality accusations. The media provided incomplete reports surrounding events and then followed up with incomplete or false pictures of the community groups involved. Then ignored the most violent group – you know the one – they kept high jacking any popular and well-intentioned movement and turning them violent.

People began snitching on neighbors just for walking their dogs without a mask – alone and nowhere near another soul. A single-family, with numerous children getting fresh air during a picnic in the park was rudely confronted for having a gathering over the mandated state maximum, even though they all lived together – their only crime, being a large family during COVID. A lone jogger was chased down by a security guard from about 20 yards away – for not wearing a mask while he ran alone on an empty beach. Horseback riders on nearly deserted trails were banned from outdoor activity despite the fact that they were outdoors, on horseback, and couldn’t get closer than 6 feet unless they really tried (speaking from personal experience). Mom and pop businesses and dine-in restaurants were restricted, while big-box retail stores went unchecked and unchallenged.

We witnessed the most juvenile Presidential debate in history. Both sides acted petulantly and resorted to name-calling and baseless accusations. Reports of voter fraud ran rampant, and the rhetoric from both sides of the political divide was easily predictable. However, neither side was able to produce any sort of clear evidence to support any assertions or defenses. And the average person will never again have assurance of a fair election. I don’t think we will ever be able to sort through to the truth. Propaganda has taken over our lives, and it has become near impossible to tell what is true and what is false.

It was crazy.

The worst of this all was seen in the cities. But in the rural and country towns…

We witnessed people coming together, sort of. Some factions tried to bring the big city strife to our small community just to widen social divides. But the majority of our neighbors, regardless of political or social bias, ignored the haters to focus on supporting small businesses as much as possible and help get them through the COVID restrictions.

Large production companies whose plants are near small towns – you know, those “capitalist a-holes” – retooled their plants during shut-down to manufacture personal protective equipment for medical staff and respirators for hospitals. They’ll be accused of turning a profit, no doubt, but they were also keeping their employees working and earning a living. Many of whom wanted to be at work, despite what the media rhetoric implied.

Parents were “woke” to the trials of keeping their own children obedient and productive throughout the day. Those few teachers I personally know were in favor of re-opening schools. But, as with all things COVID, there was much political debate and dispute over what to do come August and September.

We ALL got to telework. Of course, I telework as a rule, and it sure was fun to watch people try to learn communication tools like Zoom and WebEx. Our internet bandwidth showed signs of increased traffic, but it held true. Large annual conferences were canceled and went virtual for the first time in history. And very successfully.

Marriages were put to the test. Mine survived without any issues. My dogs will not understand when I have to go back on the road in 2021 if we ever get back to “normal.”

Speaking of dogs, the strangest side-effect of COVID was at the Animal shelters. At least our local shelter was virtually empty all year long. The other oddity was in the real estate business. Listings were short-lived, and property was getting snatched up before the realtors could sneeze. My realtor friends had their best year during COVID.

I will never forget the images my colleague sent me of Salt Lake City Airport empty. And when I finally was allowed to travel for work again in September, the hotel I have stayed at on numerous occasions was so eerily empty. The hallways of the large office buildings I visited were ghost towns. Parking was a breeze, and traffic was light.

By the time of this writing, we had been in a holiday-fueled renewed lock-down status. Though people I encountered out and about generally seemed to be numb to it all, most only wearing masks if asked or wearing them because their employment required it. A lot of eye-rolling, head nodding, and eye squinting to indicate a smile.

In 2020, we are all witnesses to history.

The observations made in this post were formed independently from personal experiences and in-person discussions with real people about their jobs and extra-curricular activities. Various headlines, some articles or television reports from multiple news sources, and direct reviews of multiple health organizations websites contributed to my personal opinions. No social media posts or unvalidated hearsay reports from others have been regurgitated by this author who no longer has social media accounts.