Getting Vaccinated In An Unstructured World

It’s a late thursday night of the day I spent an hour sitting in a doctor’s office to get vaccinated, then observed afterwards. I am exhausted. My arm is killing me. I feel weird in the stomach, and my eyes hurt. None of this relates to the vaccine, as best I can tell, by the way. I’m exhausted because I’ve been working all day, then I had to arrange transport to the doctor’s, then get home, and then, I had to work on rebuilding my bed, because that can’t really wait. It meant that after getting the vaccine — which was convenient and easy and even literally painless — I came homje and had a list of things I had to do before I could tell myself I had the freedom to relax.

And then, eventually, that opportunity arrived, and I had a shower.

There, in the shower, I had one of those creeping moments, the ones that always haunt me from my upbringing, the question: what if they’re right?

I was raised by fundamentalist Christians and we were an absolute soup pot for abusive conspiracy garbage. We were made to be credulous of the ridiculous and dismissive of the provable. And that means that, at some point there is a part of my brain that is genuinely, genuinely scared that maybe the entire truth of the way the world works may be not true and I’ve just bought into a matrix-level conspiracy theory with all sorts of provable problems that somehow nonetheless, is actually all made up. I can’t help it, just the right thing disrupting me for the right way means my brain asks the question hey, what if the people you’re relying on for this got Raptured.

It’s nonsense and I can stabilise very easily, but it doesn’t stop the question from coming up.

And then it occurred to me, immediately, in a laugh-out-loud way, that I am mercifully spared from having relatives and loved ones who would respond to the news of my being the rare number of people who die of anaphylaxis from a vaccination, not with sadness or tragedy, but I knew it!

I am time to time comforted with the way the world works and looks to me now because it is a world that is much less safe than the world of conspiracies. Oh, conspiracy world is a place where you can imagine that things are worse, you need there to be dreadful networks of terrible monsters doing some kind of abstracted horribleness at scale. But the world you live in isn’t one where the bad things are happening right by you, or as part of systems you put your hands on. It’s all stuff you can avoid by avoiding something innocuous, it’s something you can protect yourself from with secret knowledge, and usually, it’s a world that has a presence behind it, behind the horror, of the idea of an orderly universe.

It’s not a world of complete random chaos that’s just happening, without rhyme or reason. It’s not a world where car accidents happen to good people who wore their seatbelts. It’s not a world where wrong place, wrong time, wrong heartbeat seven hours ago, oops embolism.

The world I live in is not the world of conspiracies – it’s a world of systems and often very openly operated, functioning systems at that. I live in a world that is unstructured, where people have built structures over them, structures that are meant to force some order into the world but which can never coerce it there, perfectly. The harms to us are not moral ills but often results of systemic structures, structures that are doing nothing but eating themselves now.

I don’t live in the sensible world of conspiracy, where lone actors can be stopped by the right person posting memes.

I live in a chaotic, weird, senseless world that actually exists, and where the solutions to bad things come from us.

I wrote this the day I got my first vaccination injection, mid-August.