What is there to report? Apart from eight full days of demonstrations in the United States, not much. The 24 hour news cycle has been a soul-sucking black hole. Trump's antics are so theatrical that it's a wonder that this is real life that we're looking at. I half expect that suddenly someone will pull down the curtains and then the cast will come out and bow. Like, sometimes, when you're having a nightmare and suddenly you realise that it's a dream, and the biggest wave of relief washes over you.
But it is a dream in a way. I'm not living in the US, I'm not American, and so the media reports that I'm reading have an unreal quality to it. To be brutally honest and insensitive (sorry) I think some of us not based in the US are consuming the chaos like how we would consume any other reality TV, enabling us to escape from mundane lockdown life and personal existential crises. Those participating in the #blackouttuesday postings of black images have gone one level up. What skin have we in the game? We all have our own horrific racial discrimination cases closer to home. Why don't we protest about that? Because it's too painful or complicated to think about? And what is the point of a black image and a hashtag? It's more a virtual get-together by signalling one's political beliefs, which is fair, so let's keep our expectations as that. Nothing wrong with a bit of syok sendiri.
That being said, the negative emotions associated with consuming the news are real. The sadness over lost lives is real, the anger about racial injustice is real, the unease about how Covid has taken a backseat is real. It is scary. All those people on the streets, shouting, being manhandled, crying and coughing from tear gas... if there was an embodiment of a coronavirus evil villain I'm sure that he would be rubbing his gloved hands together in glee. It is the perfect setting for viral transmission. What's going viral is not only the sickness, but also the ideas of civil disobedience. Things are so tense with lockdowns and economic downturns globally that any incident could provoke waves of protests anywhere.
A friend sent me a video of her toddler screaming "Law and order!", mimicking what she saw on her father's screen. It was hilarious, yet chilling. Such is the surreality of our times.