How I Came to Need Imaginary Friends After Two Long Years of This Dystopian Nightmare of Masks, Tests and Distancing

It has been such a long two years. I have been swimming against the tide for most of that time, searching for alternatives to the oppression I have felt and witnessed, raging and grieving over the damage done to so many lives, especially the young. I rage against being part of a huge worldwide experiment. I rage against the crazy rules, the propaganda, and most of all the masks. 

We are now perhaps emerging blinking into a life without Covid rules and yet the masks and their wearers are still everywhere. The natural world is unchanged, but the human world is still dystopian. An invitation to a singing workshop involves a lateral flow test before you go, social distancing of one metre, and masks when not singing. Two friends required a lateral flow test before a visit.

I no longer support any political party, any campaign group, newspaper or magazine. The Left has left me. I am appalled by the role trade unions have played. My principles have not altered, but I have lost my place in the wider world.  

My small world has changed too. Around me are my partner, my sister and her partner and four friends who have rejected some or all of the orthodoxy of Covid in our lives. And there is another close friend who doesn’t know what she thinks. These people have been warm support and good company.

The rest of my friends and family have been ‘conformist’ and one has rejected me altogether. These relationships have lost in trust and intimacy. My disappointment runs deep. Talking about what we have lived through seems very hard to do and nothing feels as it used to because I am so changed and we are all changed. I cannot see how we heal ourselves and relationships unless there is dialogue. There is an elephant in the room.

There are people out there that I feel in some way connected to: scientists like Carl Heneghan, the Great Barrington authors Sunetra Gupta, Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, psychologist Gary Sidley, writers and philosophers like Charles Eisenstein, Paul Kingsnorth and Lionel Shriver, A State of Fear author Laura Dodsworth, and many more. These are my imaginary friends who are out there questioning and campaigning. Their writing helps me at least feel not entirely mad. I can’t find a way at the moment to be part of anything I really believe in except for helping the Smile Free campaign from my computer.

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