As shelter-in-place goes on, exhaustion sets in

It’s harrowing to witness pandemic’s myriad impacts

As shelter-in-place goes on, exhaustion sets in

It’s day eleventy-thousand of shelter-in-place and all that keeps playing through my head is the song “I’m Tired” that Madeline Kahn sings in “Blazing Saddles.” At this point I’ve never related to anything more.

While I may not be an Old West seductress singing about how draining it is to be a woman, her utter exhaustion with everyone else’s fuckery is exactly how I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks. Lately, just reading the news as I lie in bed has left me feeling depleted.

I’m tired. And I know I’m not the only one.

There’s a lot of talk of fatigue right now. From quarantine fatigue to Zoom fatigue to outrage fatigue, most of us are in a bloody haze of malaise. And it makes sense. People are not supposed to be cooped up like this. Even the most introverted person still needs face-to-face human interaction sometimes. These months of quarantine have been a real trial, mentally and emotionally, for nearly everyone.

And that doesn’t even cover the economic fallout caused by the pandemic. I live in a world populated by artists, performers, event impresarios and bartenders. It’s been harrowing to see how they’ve been impacted.

Despite all of this, the most exhausting thing has been seeing my fellow Americans manipulated into acting against their own interests. The federal government’s continued mixed messages and shirking of responsibility has created a perfect pocket for the spread of purposeful disinformation. And it is breaking my brain.

In 2000, the internet was looked at as the “information superhighway” that would raise everyone by giving them access to a world of knowledge.

Yet somehow in 2020, it’s been weaponized in a way that lets millions of people believe that vaccinations are bad, Bill Gates started COVID and Donald Trump is a truth-telling genius.

Seeing armed people storm capital buildings because they think the pandemic is a conspiracy is enough to make me want to put my head through a wall.

The fact that propagandists on the right have been able to turn the word “freedom” into a dog whistle is terrifying. Now all they have to do is intimate that something or someone is infringing on peoples’ “freedom” and they can get an armed mob anywhere…even during a deadly pandemic that’s killed over 90,000 Americans in a matter of months.

Ugh…I’m exhausted just writing this.

How have we gotten to the point where people bring out guns because they want haircuts, but they don’t say shit when states start cutting Medicaid during a time of record job loss? That’s what just happened in Colorado, Georgia and Alaska, and there was barely a peep. Why hasn’t anyone called for Jeff Bezos’ head when he’s set to become the world’s first trillionaire after profiting immensely off of this pandemic?

These people taking up arms shouldn’t be mad at the state governments locking down to keep them safe. They should be storming the White House for bailing out corporations instead of citizens. And they should be working on voting out every single politician, from both parties, who has ever voted to cut a single social program.

When all this started, there was a moment where I was hopeful. I thought that the devastation caused by the pandemic would finally open everyone’s eyes to the brokenness of our system. I thought that there would finally be enough political will to make the changes that need to be made. To get Medicare for all Americans and a safety net that would be there to support us when the next pandemic inevitably hits. But now, I’m just tired. As Kahn sings, “I’m so tired/God dammit I’m exhausted.”

Hopefully, as our cities start opening up, that will change. Assuming the virus doesn’t have a huge bounce back (and it very well may), getting out and kibitzing like normal human beings again might just give us the fortitude to beat this stupidity, and this president, in 2020. I sure as hell hope so.

Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at and join his mailing list at His column appears every other Thursday. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.

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