2021: The Darkest Timeline?

Jen Jarnefeldt
7 min readFeb 25, 2021
I’m only here for the memes.

Hello Internet, we meet again, it’s me, the Doogie Howser of tech docs. It feels a bit hasty to just launch into tech docs blog-mode without first at least briefly mentioning the Covid and the coup and other insane things that have happened over the past — checks calendar— wait… it hasn’t even been a full year? That can’t be right. I’m pretty positive it’s been at least five thousand years. But I guess time does move slower in the Upside Down or the quantum realm or whatever nightmare we’re living in.

This was going to be my preamble to a post about docs-as-code, but that’s just not what came out of my machine as I initially sat down to write. A tech docs blog is not really the place to talk politics. However, the amount of cognitive dissonance I would need in order to say nothing and just go on with my daily grind as if what I’m witnessing right now isn’t the most bananas confluence of events I’ve seen in my lifetime, would require something incongruent with my general snarky pest-like nature.

Time in the age of Corona continues to move at a snail’s pace, but the rate of rapid-fire change continues to churn unabated. If you haven’t asked yourself at least once if you’re going insane, or if we as a people are idly sauntering through an extinction event sans the appropriate doomsday attitude until we arrive at an Interstellar-like sandstorm point-of-no-return, then you are probably in a coma. In which case, may I join you bro?

This is a time when yard signs, rather than people, talk to one another over picket fences.

Back the Blue silently screams at a Black Lives Matter poster when Science is Real and Love is Love sits resolutely in opposition to Trump Train: Hope is not Canceled, Secure our Borders and Build the Wall! These little cardboard edifices erected to aim opinions at residential passersby provide only a silent and ineffectual war of discontent. Much like an Instagram workout video, it’ll make you look, but will you actually feel the Bern?

We’re more divided than we’ve ever been, and it shows. On flags, bumper stickers, social media posts, and in the yards-slash-hearts of our neighbors.

Let’s relive the past few months of the carnival funhouse hall of mirrors that has been the beginning of 2021, and just let that sink in like the subtext of a Jordan Peele movie… shall we?

On January 6th (I don’t understand why it feels like fourteen years ago either), a mob of far-right extremists, white supremacists, and conspiracy theorists stormed the Capitol building in an effort to stop the certification of electoral college votes. This mob then committed a littany of other federal crimes, usually mask-less, while Facebooking and Instagramming themselves doing it (smort).

Is everything on fire again? Don’t worry it’s just another Tuesday.

The next day, Congress certified the electoral college votes anyway, Trump finally admitted that he would be leaving the White House, and the Internet went berserker over Via Getty, which is still hilarious to me, and it will never not be funny. Via Getty’s real name is Adam Christian Johnson, he has been arrested, and the most interesting thing about him is that he is yet another Florida Man meme come to life. Oh Florida, you house all of our worst and most criminal characters you crazy state, you.

It was around this time that I began to note the slightly-crazed glint of a breakdown looming in the eyes of all of the late-night television hosts — game recognizes game. Their monologues struck a more serious and biting tone, as they routinely dragged those that either incited, took part in, or did nothing in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. America’s dads got mad, and it was super weird to watch.

On January 12th we had our deadliest Covid day. More than 4,400 deaths were reported in a single day from Covid-19. If you don’t wear between one and three masks, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands or use sanitizer frequently, you can still die from a virus that we’re only just beginning to vaccinate against, which is still mutating, infecting, and killing people. None of that is funny.

Not long after that, GameStop and Redditors broke the Internet with stonks on January 27th, and the Robin Hood memes gave me endless entertainment for about two solid days. A brief respite before February 13th, which saw the acquittal of Trump in his second impeachment trial. Jamie Raskin did a bang-up job of laying out the facts, but it wasn’t quite enough to dent the staunch partisan defensive line of the GOP.

And the next day, the entire state of Texas — MY state, my home where I live with my stuff AND my things — entirely shut down because it snowed. It doesn’t snow here. I mean sometimes we get ice every couple of years, and about ten years ago the same exact thing happened, but I mean, this never happens. And for something that never happens every ten years, we sure didn’t plan for it at all.

I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults. — Molly Ivins

Perhaps the best thing about the 2021 Texas snowpocalypse, was that it caused Ted Cruz to flee to Mexico until he got dunked on so hard that he had to come back, tail between his legs.

Perhaps the worst thing, outside of the millions without power and water, and the totally preventable deaths, is that I’ve now logged entirely too much time learning about ERCOT. The Texas legislature took a big L on the chin, and much like the latest impeachment trial showed us, it is highly unlikely that anyone at the highest levels will actually be held accountable.

You know it’s bad when the only time you feel seen is during SNL cold opens

Much of my generation is marked by disaster, and 2021 appears to be no different so far. They’re calling us the unluckiest generation. My family sometimes remarks at my jaded and somewhat aloof stance on things, but you have to kind of look at the Millennial experience as a whole to really open up that full bouquet of suck with notes of nihilism and depression that we inhale on the daily.

After all of the things that have happened lately, is the thing I’m most spun-up about Zoomers calling out Millennials for side parts and skinny jeans? Yeah. Yes it is. Gen Z is very mean and I love both of those things. But because I’m a Millennial, have all of my feelings been replaced by the image of Peter Stormare in a black hoodie saying, “I believe in nothing, Lebowski, nothing,” as he handles a wet ferret? Also yes.

Look, all I can say is at least we’re not the generation that ate Tide Pods.

So — what does all of this have to do with writing? With docs-as-code? With tech comm? With what I usually blog about nonsensically for my own amusement?

Everything. And nothing.

It just seemed absurd to pretend as if it’s fine and blog on as normal, when everything is not fine. Everything is epic amounts of ridiculous right now. It is okay to at least acknowledge that we’re probably living in the Bermuda triangle of years-long crises, a Russian nesting doll of calamities, or even perhaps a Christopher Nolan movie plot.

A lot of things have happened very recently and very rapidly that should affect how we are all mucking through daily life.

If you’re one of the ones fortunate enough to still have a job, to still have your entire family intact — mark that. I think it’s important to take stock every once in a while (not just GameStop stock), and put a little red star next to where you are on the map. You are here. You made it. Things are very weird right now, there is a lot to fix, but you’re still here, and that is not nothing, it’s everything.

Jen Brown currently does technical writing for Redwood Software, and she’s been picking apart what other people say for her entire life. Jen loves those tiny little baby bell cheese things, indoor plant jungles, and paintings that make people uncomfortable. It took her at least two months to write this many words because of the 2020–2021 time slippage vortex.



Jen Jarnefeldt

Decent as h*ck. @jenjarns on the Tweeters and Threads. I write the docs at AWS. Thoughts and opinions my own.