Keith's Web site:

How COVID-19 Radicalized Me

When quarantine first hit, almost a full year ago now, I was excited and optimistic. "Great, a few months stuck at home! I'll finally have an excuse to finish all my personal projects!", I foolishly thought. Little did I know what would be in store for me.

After the first few weeks, it quickly sunk in that governments worldwide were more concerned with protecting the capitalist economy than their citizens' health. On top of that, online school was causing me extreme levels of stress. I was exceeding the amount of hours of work that was expected (my tendency to overthink everything certainly didn't help), and on top of that, I had 6 courses to worry about. I was really looking forward to QCSYS (a quantum cryptography summer program), but unfortunately, my brain was too fried to get the most out of it, and it meant I didn't get a break from online classes at all. By Christmas, I was suffering from major burnout, and the pandemic clearly wasn't going away anytime soon.

I wasn't totally isolated - I was able to visit with one of my close friends outdoors a few times, but because they lived almost an hour away, I couldn't visit often. And with numbers going up, in-person visits had to stop completely for safety. The Internet was how I saw my other friends, frequently messaging them and having video calls. I made many new friends over the "Information Superhighway", including several who shared my feelings about the world.

It's not that I wasn't aware of the failures of capitalism and government before - poverty, climate change, police brutality, worker exploitation, and systemic racism were all things I knew about and desperately wanted to solve, but COVID-19 pulled back the curtains of the status quo and revealed to me just how deep they went. I realized there was no way we could simply legislate away the corrupt, exploitative foundations of our society within the current system.

Over the course of a month or so, my eyes were opened to more and more problems, until it finally clicked for me - the only way to achieve justice and liberation for all marginalized groups is through anarcho-communism.

I had deleted my Twitter account months before the pandemic started, and I didn't want to return. However, I missed social media, and wanted to talk with more experienced like-minded individuals all across the Internet. After wandering the Cyberdesert for a length of time only known to my Firefox history logs, I stumbled upon Mastodon - "the social network of the future". Mastodon was everything I dreamed of and more - an ad-free, non-profit, community-owned, decentralized network, just like how the Web was envisioned. Not knowing much about the platform, I simply signed up on the first instance I could find. In virtually no time, I had made several friends, and migrated to an instance named anarchism.space, which became a virtual home to me. There, I met even more friends, and was even asked to become a system administrator.

Many people wish for all this to go "back to normal". I don't. I believe COVID hasn't changed all that much. Sure, we're all essentially confined to our houses (if we have one, that is), but the socioeconomic inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic will not go away once they are out of sight from the middle class again. We may have to learn to live with the coronavirus, but we must not continue to live with the exploitation of the working class - we desperately need a "vaccine" for capitalism.