When Your Life Becomes News It’s Miserable

A photo from better times, when we had fuel to not be in our house

I keep opening browser tabs like tabs of Xanax. I do it for sedation but I just end up more aggravated. Everything is shit, everywhere. Reading anything is like fiddling with a canker sore. Checking if the pain is still there. It is.

The worst is when the news spills out of the browser. I can see it in the eyes of everyone on the street. I hear it when I talk to the security guard, who’s still making $4 a day while the cost of food has tripled. He’s got two kids at home. I’ll bring them something tomorrow. The whole fucking country has collapsed. It’s not news, it’s life. It’s eminently, terribly visible.

I sit down at the bus stand and the same homeless lady is still there from yesterday. She says she hasn’t eaten dinner and asks for a coffee. I go get her some coffee and short eats and we talk. She tells me about the President and his American family doing fine which is true. She asks about the protestors and I say they’re good people. She asks me how many are demons and I say I dunno, 20%. I don’t even think demons are bad. It’s economists I’m worried about. I let a few buses pass but eventually I’ve got to go.

But I don’t have anywhere to go. Just open more browser tabs and try to fall into another world. Cricket highlights. Cooking shows. It all feels like science fiction now. Reality has deviated from the past so much that watching it feels absurd. So many TV shows just ignore the pandemic now, like it never happened, though it’s still going on. The only thing that feels normal is fiction. Reality is bizarre.

There has always been this weight of suffering that makes up the news—that somehow sells soap and shoes—but now it’s knocking at my door. Suffering has always been the heart of drama (watching people have a terrible time from Rama to Breaking Bad), but it’s different when it’s next door. I close the doors but the feeling still comes through. There’s no amount of browser windows I can escape through. Those windows just open to Palestine, or America, or Senegal, and they’re also screwed.