Christmas Dinner 2020: A Covid Vaccine, a New Strain, and a Side of Conspiracies
This Christmas will be unlike any other in human history.
During the previous century there was no shortage of tumultuous times during the holidays, when people did their best to enjoy these special times even during the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, two world wars, and the fear of Russian nukes.
To say this will be the worst holiday season in history for humanity would be unfair.
Back then most people had one thing in common, they were united against such threats, at least when it came to what they believed. Fast forward to 2020. Oh how things have changed, especially with regards to our collective perception of reality.
In the 1960s, after the Cuban missile crisis was solved, followed by the moon landings that same decade, it seemed humanity was on a path to an eternal era of intellectual enlightenment that would unite us and lead us to the far reaches of outer space. Instead, half a century into the feature, scientists are struggling to convince the masses that no, the Earth is not flat, and viruses are indeed real.
How did this happen? In all honesty, there is not one single, nor simple, answer. But here are a few hints. The information superhighway that is the internet has been inundated by water from a cesspool of misinformation and disinformation. Why? Probably because population growth, coupled with human ingenuity, has moved us into the future too fast and made the world an overly complicated place for our brains to catch up.
This dilemma stems from what social scientists have dubbed the savannah principle, which basically means the human brain has difficulty comprehending and dealing with situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment. We anatomically modern humans evolved in the African Savannah about 300,000 years ago. During most of that time, our brains evolved to survive by hunting, gathering, finding or creating shelter, and avoiding animals that might eat us.
The industrial revolution took off just over 200 years ago, followed by the technological revolution and now the information revolution, where kids have obsessed over their image on Instagram in just the last decade. Looking at the big picture, this is only about .00004% of the entire time we have inhabited planet Earth, and it is doubtful our brains have had time to properly digest today’s realities.
Instead of simply being intelligent enough to avoid starvation, finding enough shelter, and avoiding getting killed by other humans or animals, we are now faced with the threats of a very complex global economic system that may one day collapse, planetary heating that is of our own making (but only affecting us incrementally so far), and a pandemic that is invisible to the naked eye but with dire effects.
Too much information for our still evolving brains. Trying to assimilate it all is like trying to transfer all the water from the Pacific Ocean into Lake Erie in the US, using a regular-sized funnel.
And now, when everyone has their own personal loudspeaker in the form of social media, we are subject to endless memes spreading an influx of each individual’s often skewed view of reality, some of which is meaningless, much of which is caustic to the very pillars of civilization.
The situation only gets worse when the origin of such perniciously misleading information comes from the pinnacles of world power.
But the fact of the matter is believing Covid was created by a small group of billionaires to control us is much easier than assimilating the complexities of its origin, which is most likely the result of our destructive relationship with nature and animals than anything else, especially when 60% of all human diseases are zoonotic, mainly coming from the livestock sector.
The hottest conspiracy theories are now about the vaccine itself. Among the most contagious is the idea that the vaccine is being used to inject us with microchips so the superrich, including none other than Bill Gates and George Soros, can monitor our every move.
Personally, the most exciting thing I’ve done all week is gone food shopping. I’m quite certain Gates and Soros can find better ways to entertain themselves than watching me buy bananas and rice.
And now, just before the holidays, there is news of a new strand of the coronavirus, which is certain to come with a new strand of conspiracy theories.
Will it take another several thousand years for our brains to adjust to the realities of the modern world? Only time will tell, quite a lot of it. For now, all we can do is try and enjoy the upcoming holiday season, one which will be full of restrictions, frustration, mistrust in our institutions, and a plate of every conspiracy theory our 300,000-year-old brains from the African Savannah can conjure up.