America Is Ready To Explode

[ Posted Thursday, March 18th, 2021 – 15:13 UTC ]

[Two things, before I begin. One, that title is metaphorical and actually downright optimistic, in case anyone read it as the opposite. Two, I rarely if ever (can't remember the last time, if it even existed) write about psychology here, except as it pertains to politics (like playing the fun parlor game of guessing precisely which aberrant personality disorder fit our previous president the best, for instance). So this will be a somewhat-unusual column, just to warn everyone in advance.]

America is on the verge of an explosion. I can feel its rumblings already. My guess is it's already started happening in a small way, and in the next two or three months it is going to spread like wildfire. OK, I'll stop with the flaming metaphors and just explain what I'm talking about instead, how's that?

Here's the best way to put it: "What are you going to do when it's over?"

What will you do when you get fully vaccinated and the general public approaches the fabled herd immunity? How will you celebrate this milestone? Got any plans?

We've all been locked down for way too long. It has become a state of mind, for most of us. Things are different -- the world has changed. We have shrunk our spheres of personal contact so dramatically that it has affected most parts of our lives. We've all got (take your pick) cabin fever or perhaps a bunker mentality. Everyone's been stressed out, no matter what you call it. Some of us have been seriously stressed out.

We are, in a word, exhausted. And there's even a name for what we're all going through, now: Pandemic Trauma and Stress Experience, or "P.T.S.E." It stems from having to adapt to a new and very strange reality, and coping with it as best as we all can. Some of us developed new hobbies (sourdough bread, anyone?). Some of us accomplished things we never had the time to tackle before now. But most of us (I would bet) just spent way too much time just binge-watching or even (a new word coined in the midst of the pandemic) "rebinging" shows we had already seen many times before. It was the mental equivalent of comfort food (which we also ate way too much of, by the way).

But now we're on the brink of all that being over.

We're all about to get vaccinated. And that's going to usher in enormous changes. Because people are -- for the first time in over a year -- going to feel safe again. And it will be a wonderful feeling.

Personally, I'm still in Limbo. I got my first shot this week, but won't get the second one for almost a month. So I have a little taste of how people's thinking is going to drastically change, but I'm not fully there yet.

In fact, I even hesitated to publicly admit that I've had my first shot. So many people haven't, and (this was me, last week) that breeds a deep and rarely-admitted "vaccine envy" whenever you hear from a friend or coworker that they have been vaccinated already. I certainly don't want to motivate that in anyone, because (like I said) I already know what it's like (and it's not pleasant). The reason I do admit it is that it really isn't going to be all that long before everyone will at least be where I am now at -- a matter of a few weeks, at the most. The end is in sight.

Which is why I found myself wondering what it's going to be like when we all make it out the other side and are totally vaccinated and as safe as can be. And that's where the explosion metaphor came from, because I truly do think we are on the verge of a new travel and vacationing golden era. It might not last long (maybe a year or two), but I bet everyone (with the means) is already thinking about what they're going to do when we all get let out of the cages of our houses once and for all.

Maybe you're dreaming of flying somewhere. Flying on an airplane, with all the close contact and shared air, has been one of the worst imaginable things up until now. When all of a sudden it becomes a viable option for most once again, my guess is the airline industry is going to see a boom like they've never seen before. Prices will rise, flights will be added, and the nation will start flying high once again (both metaphorically and literally).

Vacation destinations will reap this explosive boom as well. Places that have looked like ghost towns -- and even actual touristy ghost towns out in the desert -- will once again have crowds of people at them. Normal will return a lot faster than people may now think.

This return to normalcy will be like a giant weight lifted off us all. We'll be able to finally relax and stop worrying about exchanging droplets with each other. We'll be able to hug each other again! And touch and shake hands, and all the rest of it, too.

In fact, I could have even used: "America Is Ready For An Orgy" as a title, because that is indeed what it's going to feel like -- whether it actually involves sex or not. Everyone's ready for a little uninhibited release, even if it just means taking the kids to Disneyland or whatever. Just to have fun again, to not worry about staying six feet apart, to just not worry about anything at all anymore is going to feel so ecstatic that we're all going to revel in it to some degree. Maybe there will even be a baby boom nine months later, who knows?

Personally, I will probably go off on a road trip. I love driving around the country, and haven't been able to do so for too long. So I will most likely throw a dart at a map and find something close to where it hits that I haven't seen before, and just pack the car up and head for it. And I'm not going to be the only one who does so, either. National parks might get just as crowded as Disney resorts this summer, to put this another way.

Of course, we're not there yet. Even those lucky few who have been fully vaccinated now can't really just explode in a frenzy of free-spirited frolicking quite yet. In the first place, nowhere near enough other people have been vaccinated for it to be safe for all. Yet. And in the second place, when everyone else is waiting it would be unseemly and rude for the lucky few to rub it in everyone else's face.

But by the time summer rolls around, that won't even be an issue anymore. There will be no "survivor's guilt" attached to being vaccinated by then. Enough will have done so that even things like face masks and six-foot distancing will likely (and thankfully) be left by the wayside. And that's when the explosion of travel and vacations and going to see loved ones far away is going to happen in a big way.

Of course, the last weeks are going to be the toughest for everyone. Waiting to get a shot can be torture, when you know that others are getting theirs. But within about a month (maybe six weeks at the outside), even this dynamic is going to radically change. Right now, the demand is far greater than the supply. But as more and more get vaccinated and the efforts to ramp up production and delivery systems improves even more, at some magic point there will be more vaccine than arms to put it in. This is when the public health efforts will shift to begging unvaccinated people to get their shots. There won't be any long lines or difficulty getting an appointment, by this point. The health people will instead be trying desperately to hit that herd immunity mark (anywhere from 75 to maybe 85 percent of the public).

So to those still waiting: you won't have to wait much longer before the health experts start actually begging people to show up. The long lines and long waits for appointments are almost over. Help, as Joe Biden likes to say, is already here -- and the end is in sight.

Psychologically, we're all going to want to immediately forget the whole pandemic experience ever existed. We're going to want to put it all behind us forever. And we're going to throw ourselves back into normal life with gusto, just because it feels so good and we've waited so long for it.

Which brings me right back to where I started. America is about to explode into a frenzy of recreation, travel, family reunions, vacations, celebrations, and just plain having fun.

So there's that to look forward to! My advice: make your plans now, because it'll help pass the time until we actually do get to that point. That's what I'm doing, at any rate.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


13 Comments on “America Is Ready To Explode”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Wow. I haven't seen that kind of optimism in I don't know when. It's nice to see, really.

    I hope it's warranted.

    In case it isn't, there's always this,

  2. [2] 
    andygaus wrote:

    The trouble with trying to achieve herd immunity is that some of the more ox-like parts of the herd would rather not be immune. Check out this article from CNN where a reporter found that the people in an Oklahoma diner not only didn't want to be vaccinated but were ready to split with Trump after Trump said that being vaccinated was a good idea:

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The thing is we don't really know how long immunity will last or just how deadly and less discriminating the COVID-19 virus variants will get, especially in those countries where it continues to spread wildly and where vaccines have not yet begun to be distributed, much less put into arms, to any large degree.

    And, if I could just reiterate that we are dealing with a pandemic not just an American epidemic.

    America won't be safe until every country is safe.

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    (like playing the fun parlor game of guessing precisely which aberrant personality disorder fit our previous president the best, for instance).

    hey, i resemble that remark!

  5. [5] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    What a fun column to read. Until I got to the part about "...we're all going to want to immediately forget the whole pandemic experience ever existed. We're going to want to put it all behind us forever."

    Uh-huh. And what is the government, and society, going to do to prepare for the next 'big one', plague-wise, so that we don't have to do this again? Prepare, fund, and normalize pandemic public health protocols on a national level? Or dumbly look forward to episode after episode of stupidly repeated, partial, and inefficient lockdowns, decorated with unavailable or difficult to get testing and tracing, while losing upwards of a million people in a year and several millions more debilitated for the long term?

    You didn't just say that, did you?

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    John, I couldn't agree more.

    I look at this whole pandemic as a wake up call. We all need to learn the lessons of how to prepare for and respond to a pandemic because the way we have all (for the most part but with notable exceptions) responded to this one has been unacceptable, especially considering the use of lockdowns and people having to die alone and even live alone without the comfort of having family with them. UNACCEPTABLE!!!

    I don't think this is the disease X that scientists have been worried about because this virus is very controllable and only a fatal threat to a small percentage of the global population.

    How will we respond to the next pathogen that may be far less controllable and a deadly threat to all of us?

  7. [7] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  8. [8] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    PES mobile is the best football game i've ever seen on a mobile device.

  9. [9] 
    TheStig wrote:


    Sounds like you got the Moderna. The 30 days before getting the booster seemed much longer to me. Mostly safe doesn’t feel all that safe....and there are 10 more days before the second shot fully kicks in. Officially. I’m on day 11 of phase 2. It feels great.

  10. [10] 
    Bleyd wrote:

    Sounds like you're talking about the Scattering from the Dune series.

    As for me, I'm looking forward to having the occasional date night with my wife again, going out for dinner and/or a movie. Also, I want to go visit my parents. They never got covid, but the PTSE thing has hit them particularly hard, aggravating their existing health issues (they're both 70).

  11. [11] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Optimism run amok. What about COVID 20 thru infinity, along with completely new viruses? What a lucky old geezer I am, can't think of a better time to be near the end of this sorry life!

  12. [12] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:


    Ever have the flu? Then you likely had a descendant of the 1918 Spanish flu...

  13. [13] 
    SF Bear wrote:

    One word. -- PARTY

Comments for this article are closed.