Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Ed Yong published a piece in the Atlantic on Thursday morning about what to expect from the next phase of the pandemic, now that we know more about the delta variant.
It doesn’t take the latest scientific analysis, however, to conclude that the year is not going to play out the way it seemed it would, back when vaccinations first became available and the very concept of making plans returned. Although President Biden has made clear, perhaps prematurely, that the U.S. will not be going back into lockdown mode, any chance of a carefree, normal-feeling fall has slipped away. Hospitals are filling up, masks have come roaring back, box office grosses are down, and bands are pulling out of tours. Not only did Hot Vaxxed Summer fizzle out; whatever we were going to call this fall, it isn’t happening at all.
People on Twitter have already intuited as much, and processed it in the universal language of the internet: memes.
my fall plans the delta variant pic.twitter.com/Z8sUJeKVwK
— Adam Cerious (@Browtweaten) August 12, 2021
If tweets like the above seem familiar, though, it’s because we’ve already been down this exact same road before. This pandemic has been going on so long that we already did My Plans / 2020 last summer. We already had to see several people make the same reference to Dennis Nedry’s lamentable fate in Jurassic Park. All of this already happened and we are caught in a time loop. Hulu may be moments away from releasing Andy Samberg’s time loop comedy Palm Springs again for the second time in the pandemic.
We’ve already repurposed our favorite TV shows to make commentary on our wildly disrupted lives.
fall plans v delta variant pic.twitter.com/4BjLa7aaIl
— Maris Kreizman (@mariskreizman) August 12, 2021
Okay I gotta do one for #TheWhiteLotus
My fall plans Miss Delta variant pic.twitter.com/ypuRXjVFEA
— SCAM GODDESS (@DivaLaci) August 12, 2021
my fall plans // the delta variant pic.twitter.com/SFsk9otRnf
— Ryan Perry (@rynprry) August 11, 2021
My fall plans // the delta variant pic.twitter.com/JDUtMW5k9J
— Allie Goertz (@AllieGoertz) August 12, 2021
We’ve already used movies used to telegraph our disappointment and instability.
My fall plans The delta variant pic.twitter.com/qUPDheNmsF
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) August 12, 2021
My fall plans / the Delta variant pic.twitter.com/mN51DHRhXv
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) August 11, 2021
My fall plans. The delta variant pic.twitter.com/b6SZQl4hDn
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) August 12, 2021
We’ve already seen famous people who are also adjusting their lives to an evolving nightmare get self-referential.
— Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman) August 12, 2021
My Fall Plans The Delta Variant pic.twitter.com/JJSAjwfZDR
— Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) August 12, 2021
Three memes in one tweet! (including one people already yelled at me for)
My fall plans The Delta Variant pic.twitter.com/a92KgfJrzP
— Amanda Knox (@amandaknox) August 11, 2021
We’ve already been detached and blasé about it. We’ve done it all!
fall plans / delta variant (I didn’t really have any plans) pic.twitter.com/6bFG3xFg1y
— nolan (@anxiousdeluxe) August 12, 2021
my fall plans // the delta variant pic.twitter.com/8hFuQ663vQ
— Rachel McCartney (@RachelMComedy) August 12, 2021
My fall plans were the Delta variant sorry guys.
— Martha Kelly (@MarthaKelly3) August 11, 2021
delta did not ruin ur fall plans, u were gonna be depressed and argue with 14 yr olds online before the variant and u can do it after
— first-mate prance (@bocxtop) August 11, 2021
However, this latest crop of memes proves that we still have the capacity to surprise each other with jokes in this format, and that new things have happened outside of the delta variant since the last time this meme went around.
My fall plans The Delta variant pic.twitter.com/FmPS4tyVPn
— Carlos Aguilar (@Carlos_Film) August 12, 2021
my fall plans the delta variant pic.twitter.com/dtPhlJePdX
— alex howard (@ajhoward121) August 11, 2021
These are my Fall plans every year. I didn’t change them last year and I’ll be damned if I change them this year!! https://t.co/ejLiuhTxc0
— Liam Stack (@liamstack) August 12, 2021
The latest iteration of this meme is depressing in its fatalistic feeling of repetition and inevitability, but it’s also a reminder that if we can’t go anywhere again, at least we’ll all be stuck online together, helping each other get through this with humor.
No matter how much absolutely anything else would be preferable.