At 6PM on Sunday, August 2, a state of disaster was declared in the Australian state of Victoria.
Four weeks into what was supposed to be a six-week lockdown, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that he was upgrading Melbourne’s “stage three” coronavirus restrictions to an unprecedented “stage four”, resetting the clock and extending the city’s stay-at-home orders until at least September 13th.
In the interim, residents will be allowed to leave their houses only once a day for essential supplies, once a day for an hour of exercise, and exclusively between the hours of 5AM and 8PM, at which point a curfew is enforced.
After weeks of all-time highs in the way of daily infections and deaths, an escalation of the state’s public health response feels somewhat necessary. But it also feels frustrating. As tired as the point has become, it’s more true than ever that 2020 has shaped up to be an incomprehensibly punishing year: an exhausting slog towards an unforeseeable finish line, with each terrible day posing a fresh threat to our mental health and existential wellbeing.
Which is why, this Friday, August 7 at 7PM, in the spirit of Philip K Dick’s quotable observation that “it is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane”, thousands of Melburnians are preparing to stand on their front porches and scream.
“Covid’s shit. Every1s a bit sad. Just stand on ur porch and scream until u feel a bit better,” reads the description of the Facebook event “Stand on your front porch and scream”.
“Let’s all unite in our shared depression.”
Further elaborating in the discussion thread, a comment posted by event host Tessethia Von Tessle Roberts on Sunday night reads: “Feel like this pandemic is a bit arse? Yea same. Help urself feel a bit better about the impending collapse of society and ur growing helplessness and just yell about it.”
At least 7,000 people have clicked attending at the time of writing, while 23,000 more have expressed interest. That alone would make for more than 30,000 individuals wailing—all at once in a cathartic, soul-cleansing Wilhelm scream—in a collective bid to cleanse themselves of COVID-related stress and anxiety.
But with five days until kick-off, and with Andrews set to announce further restrictions later today, that number is certain to increase.