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Boats, on the whole, are harmless. Like, mostly. The midrange bumps made the yachts a little weird, and Covid-19 at makes cruise ships insecure, but for the most part people see boats and marvel at the engineering, the grandeur. Gondolas, schooners, aircraft carriers, they all have their fans. But generally people like boats; they don’t feel like boats. It was until this week, when everyone could relate to the Never given.
Since Tuesday, the Never given—A container ship with four football fields traveling from China to the Netherlands — has been stuck in the Suez Canal. Packed with 200,000 tons of tracksuits and ginger (and other stuff), it got stuck on its side, and crews have tried to take it off since. It could take days or weeks, and it is blocking other ships with millions of dollars in cargo that can no longer cross the waterway between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. If you want a smarter explanation of what’s going on here, please read my colleague Aarian Marshall excellent explanatory, but in short, it’s a mess.
It’s also a massive metaphor for how so many people are feeling right now: weighed down, stuck between where they’re coming from and where they want to go, and desperately hoping for help digging in. This week – after another mass shooting, another Big Tech Hearing, and the news that now everyone on Slack can DM you at will– everything seems intimidating. We are all, it seems, the Never given.
Identification with the ship in this way took hold quite quickly. A few compared the enormity of the ship with its own pandemic depression and anxiety, making puny humans on the beach their replacements for self-help and personal care. Others noted that “emotionally, I am the Suez Canal. ” More besides just asked “Really stupid idea[s] to know how to take off the ship. ” Vice noted “A freighter drew a giant dick peak in the ocean, then got stuck in the Suez Canal” (who among us…?), And Sarah Jones rightly pointed it out in new YorkIntelligent of that “it’s almost impossible to make jokes on boats” largely because Boaty mcboatface a little spoiled the whole thing.
Look, a lot has happened this week, and the 54 or so that came before it. The world faces trauma after trauma, and too often no one knows where to go with it. To echo an oft-repeated refrain online: Everyone needs more than anyone can give right now. There’s a giant boat stuck in the Suez Canal, and while that might not be the biggest or most important news in the world, it’s something a lot of people can relate to, no docked and bogged down waiting for things to change.
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