The needs of the many….

My favorite Star Trek movie is Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan. I am by no means a Star Trek or Star Wars fan. But while I was still in high school, this movie was playing on HBO one night at a friend of mines house who was lucky enough to have cable. We did not have cable, but that is another story.

The plot finds the crew of the starship USS Enterprise facing off against the genetically engineered tyrant Khan Noonien Singh (played by Ricardo Montalbán), a character who first appeared in the 1967 Star Trek television episode “Space Seed”. When Khan escapes from a 15-year exile to exact revenge on Kirk, the crew of the Enterprise must stop him from acquiring a powerful terraforming device named Genesis.

The Wrath of Khan film is the beginning of a three-film story arc that continues with the film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and concludes with the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). OK, I am rambling on about not being a “Trekie”, but just had to give a little back story of why I liked Wrath of Khan so much. It wasn’t the actors or the action of the movie, but rather a line in the movie that gives  me pause after all these years.

Captain Kirk has been promoted to Admiral Kirk. He receives word that the Enterprises has received a garbled communication for help and Star Fleet Command is requesting they look into a distress symbol. Spock is now the Captain. However, Jim desperately wants his command of the Enterprise back but is also very careful not to disrespect or undermine Spock in any way.

Yet Spock wants Jim to realize that what he is doing, however well-intentioned, is pointless because he is wasting his talents not commanding and tells him in an equally kind and gentle way that he should give in to his instincts regarding taking back leadership of the Enterprise.  Spock then proceeds to tell Jim that, “If in any case, were I to invoke logic, logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few.” In which Jim chides back, “Or the one.”

Fast forward to 2021. How are the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, or the one? We just marked the one-year anniversary of Covid 19 coming to the US shores. In the beginning, ads of “We’re All in This Together” blanketed the air waves. We were in shock to hear of stars Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson testing positive. Then came Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz positive test. Basketball was cancelled. Events like South by Southwest postponed.  

The CDC advised the Trump Administration in order to stop the spread, a nationwide shut down for 15 days would be best. It was then extended to 30 days.  Schools, restaurants, churches, gyms, and businesses one by one shut down. This was not only to just protect the needs of the many, but to keep the many alive.  

What we have seen from the beginning of Covid 19, is that this crisis has been anything but equitable. If you were famous or rich enough, you got tested. Despite a president telling us whoever wanted a test could get a test, it was not just extremely difficult but was downright impossible for me to get my daughter tested in the early days of Covid.

As spring turned to summer, mask wearing became a political statement, mainly driven by people who deemed the virus a hoax. Case numbers skyrocketed after each holiday. First, Memorial Day, followed by July 4th, then Labor Day saw Covid case numbers climb into hundreds of thousands testing positive daily. By Halloween and then Thanksgiving and into Christmas, the deaths also became mind-blowing. Over 3,000 people a day were dying. Why were so many needs of the many being overlooked by the needs of the few, or the one?

December finally gave hope. Vaccines became available. Moderna and Pfizer were first to get shots into arms. Again, that has turned into another haphazard display of inequality. Word of people going to other states to get ahead of the line to get a shot. People from Canada and Argentina were flying to Florida to take advantage of the state’s loose rules of who could get the Covid vaccine.

As this one-year anniversary turns into a second year of Covid 19, I cannot escape my own needs. I was one of millions of Americans who lost a job last year. Sales were down at my former company, and customers were having difficulty paying support contracts. Myself and five other of my team mates numbers were up. We were line items on a spreadsheet.  The needs of many shareholders outweighed the needs of employees, the few.

And now, after a year of being at home, our children are displaying stress with online school as opposed to being taught in person. According to a new study, in recent months alarming spikes in depression and anxiety among children and their parents has taken hold. Multiple studies have found that students — especially those with disabilities and from low-income families — are learning less than they should. As a parent with two remote learners, I have tried to protect my few, but wonder if I am causing them many harms?

Finally, February marked the seventeenth birthday of Facebook. I am not a fan of social media. I tried it in 2009 and lasted only 6 months and deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts. In 2018 I decided to write a young adult novel. My husband recommended to me The Mountain of Authors conference. The keynote speaker stated we are not going to reach our readers, especially young adults, without a social media presence.

I launched my book in April 2020 and rejoined Facebook and Twitter. I also opened an Instagram account. I spent all summer posting pictures of family moments, joining writers groups, and catching up with family and friends. It was fine for me at first. Covid was keeping me from family and friends. But by the time the holidays approached, I noticed the longer I was on Facebook the more depressed I got.

Since the birth of my second child, I have had numerous bouts with depression. For people who are already prone to depression, even mild depression, spending time on social media can have serious consequences. I wished family and friends Happy New Year and then deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from my devices. I did not close my accounts, just took them off my phone and iPad. Since January 7, I have looked at Twitter on my laptop a handful of times and have not posted or even looked at Facebook or Instagram in over a month.

I am not trying to bash social media. But one thing I think can be harmful is false sense of friends and followers that makes one feel good or bad about themselves. If I have ten friends, I need to get ten more. I have one thousand followers, I need ten thousand more. This feeds a constant loop of “engagement” which is built into social media applications. If nobody likes your post, not even bothering to push a like button, let alone leave a comment, is it no wonder that it can lead to depression or anger? The needs of the many, the advertisers, are also competing for your engagement, which crowds out the posts that you might have otherwise seen from the few, your family and friends. I have spent the first few weeks of 2021 reinventing myself to compete in the ultra-competitive field of Amazon Web Services (AWS). I hope by this summer to be back to work in a technology field.  I have a distractive personality, so setting a goal and sticking to it usually works to get me unstuck. I want to use the few hours in the day to pursue my many passions, reading, writing, blogging, and cooking. And maybe I can get really good at the one passion – writing.