The Pandemic Time Capsule, Volume 2

A semi-regular rundown of what we’ll put in a vault when this is over, and try not to remember.

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There are two, perhaps three, and maybe soon more, vaccines about to arrive, and with those vaccines, there is hope. Our current miseries are not permanent. This pandemic will someday be over, and it could even be soon.

Thus, to commemorate this unprecedented time in human history, we have been, on a semi-regular basis, putting together a Pandemic Time Capsule. In it, we will place those objects, figures and curiosities that existed as a critical part of our pandemic reality but will likely vanish when we are outside of that bubble. Put your own suggestions in the Responses, or email me at williamfleitch@yahoo.com.

Breadmaking. Remember this? Remember when we thought this was going to be, like, two months long, and thus we’d use those two months to better ourselves while we were trapped in our homes? So we started little home bakery projects, and then we realized that, uh, no, that’s not what this pandemic is going to be about, and then the next thing we knew we were all out in the streets protesting for justice and trying to save democracy and forgetting about our dumb bread. There was a bread moment, though, remember.

Constant Shaming. To be clear: Shaming people in public for bad behavior isn’t just going to keep going after the pandemic, it’s arguably a public good: Sometimes public shaming is the only way to truly instill some sort of societal justice. But we have all become constant shamers during the pandemic, pointing how how we wouldn’t act that way, how you are wrong, how ashamed you should be. This was an inevitable outgrowth of the lack of federal leadership during the pandemic, with all of us forced to police ourselves, but it will be nice, when this pandemic is over, not to feel pressured to constantly pass judgments on our family, friends and neighbors. If we can forget what happened during the pandemic, anyway.

Room Rater. For years, if you were going to be on a television news program, they would take you a studio, and they would slap a bunch of makeup on you, and they’d give you a fancy microphone and maybe even tease your hair a bit. (Witness.) But in a pandemic, we all learned, you don’t need any of that. You just need a computer with a camera and a well-constructed background. Or maybe not-so-well-constructed. Enter Room Rater, a Twitter account that judged commentators’ backgrounds on a 0-to-10 basis. A recent backlash has soured some on the Room Rater, but all told, it’ll be nice to have normal production values again. No one needs to see my living room.

Sporting Events Without Fans. It has been strange, and perhaps even a little bit unhealthy, to watch sports during the pandemic, and then even when you get past the discomfort of watching people breathe on each other for three hours without masks. But the weirdest part has to be everything sports has done to try to provide the illusion of fans in the stands when there are no fans in the stands. Cardboard cutouts, pumped in crowd noise, even virtual fans, which made you wonder if you were going insane.

You never realized how much you missed that drunk guy in the row in front of you, did you?

Send me your Pandemic Time Capsule entries, or put them in the Responses. And happy Thanksgiving!

Will Leitch will be writing multiple pieces a week for Medium. Make sure to follow him right here. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family, and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel “How Lucky,” released by Harper next May. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.

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Writer, New York, NYT, MLB, WaPo, others. Founder, Deadspin. Author of four books, with fifth, “How Lucky,” coming May 2021. https://williamfleitch.substack.com

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