We’ve all seen posts griping about long lines at the grocery store, hand-sanitizer and toilet paper shortages, resource hoarding and general lack of empathy and understanding. The news is no better. It’s a constant stream of anxiety-inducing updates on confirmed cases of COVID-19, death tolls, the plunging stock market and temporary closures or suspended services.
But perhaps the most surprising thing to come out of this – something the disaster movies missed the mark on – is the human ability to seek levity in the face of imminent disaster.
Warning: Long, picture-heavy post behind the cut.
A RETURN TO THE NATURAL WORLD.
It seems like only last week, we were worried about the polar ice-caps melting. Faced with more pressing matters, reusable cups and grocery bags are no longer the priority or entirely…sanitary. But one unexpected outcome of self-isolating has been a return to the natural world. The canals in Venice are the clearest they’ve ever been. Dolphins have returned to the Sardinian coast. Wild boars are roaming the streets of some Italian villages. And ducks are swimming in the Trevi fountain!
Canals in Venice.
Animals returning to Italy.
And if anyone needed a reminder – it’s not that humanity is the scourge of the Earth – it’s that consumerism and capitalism are destroying our planet. Corona virus has shown that changes in production and spending habits can have a big and immediate impact on global warming.
LAUGHTER IN MEDIAS RES.
From Spain, the birthplace of Surrealist, Salvador Dalí, and Architect, Gaudí, comes a reminder of the absurdness of modern times.
Posting videos that harken back to the Dadaism*, Spain embraces a brave, new world.
(*The Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture. Dadaist artists expressed their discontent with violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with the radical far-left. wiki)
The memes! If there’s one thing that can be said for Millenials and Generation Z’s, it’s that we’ve lived through so many big life events (mass shootings, terrorism, global warming, student loans, economic downturn), we’ve learned to find laughter in the pain. Over time, this nihilistic view of life has led to some really good memes.
While the global pandemic is very real and people are dying – something that should not be made light of – for those of us in self-isolation, keeping our spirits up is an essential part to maintaining good mental health. We can’t spiral into panic and memes help us remain calm and not overreact.
LOOK FOR THE HELPERS.
Mr. Rogers famously once said:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”Fred Rogers
The Corona Virus outbreak has been no different. While some resort to hoarding and selfishness, many wonderful people are trying to alleviate the stress – financial, emotional and physical such a pandemic causes.
In trying times, there will always be people looking to exploit the vulnerable, but there will be just as many looking to support and uplift.
SELF-ISOLATION IS BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER.
While the purpose of Social Distancing is to keep people from making contact and spreading illness, one unexpected side-effect of Self-Isolation is that it has strengthened some bonds.
Many parents are now homeschooling their children, getting to form invaluable, precious memories with them. I can’t count how many friends have showed me adorable pictures they drew with their kids or things they have learned about their children since switching to home-schooling.
Another recipient of additional love? Pets! Dogs and cats that had to stay at home all day while their owners went off to work are now getting to cuddle and spend more time with their owners.
And while we’re discouraged from spending time with each other in large public groups, people are keeping in touch through phone calls, face-time and text groups. I’ve been invited to “viewing parties” to watch movies with my friends from our home computers. Even celebrities are getting in on the fun – sharing photos of their self-isolation. Some artists are taking it even further – live-streaming free, virtual concerts for people to watch. (a list is available here).
NO SHORTAGE OF ACTIVITIES.
Many of my extrovert friends have bemoaned the boredom of having to stay at home. And maybe, if this had happened in the 1990s, when I would have had to survive on one overdue DVD from Blockbuster, dial-up Internet and Monopoly, I would be with them. But today, there’s no lack of things to do at home!
Streaming services – like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus – offer almost unlimited video content. Spotify, Apple Music and others provide a non-stop soundtrack. There are the free live-streaming concerts mentioned above. And even the closure of libraries won’t hit as hard as it once would have – with the advent of ebooks – I don’t have to leave home to find something good to read. Most libraries (mine included) are still offering their digital loan program and Amazon has daily book deals for deep discounts on reading. And if you’re not into digital, most of my friends (and myself) have a stack of physical books waiting to be read.
Quarantine isn’t just about staving off boredom either. This can be an enriching time for a lot of people, not just home-schooled kids. Famous museums are offering the option of taking a virtual tour (travelandleisure). The Duolingo app can help you learn a new language or strengthen one you already speak. Pinterest has tons of ideas for crafts and activities. Writers like myself are facing unprecedented free time for working on our novels or other projects. There are also plenty of sites where you can take online courses.
Of course, our mind isn’t the only thing that needs strengthening! Youtube and other apps offer free workouts, yoga sessions and more. And as long as you’re not around large groups, you can still take your dog for a walk, garden or go for a hike. Enjoy the benefits of outdoors, exercise and get a must-needed boost of Vitamin-D!
BRING AWARENESS AND RADACALIZE!
If this outbreak has highlighted anything, it’s the flaws in our current system. Under capitalism, our nation’s most vulnerable citizens are especially at risk – of catching the virus, of losing financial stability, of not having access to necessary health-care. As a service worker myself, I have had more exposure to the virus than those who work office jobs. My employment and income is not guaranteed and my situation changes day to day. And I don’t have the type of job you can do at home.
While self-isolation might seem like an inconvenience, it’s a luxury not afforded to everyone. For service workers and health care workers, they don’t have the option of doing their jobs from home. Or if they do, it could ultimately lead to financial ruin and even homelessness. Some children depend on their school, not just for education, but for their daily meals.
If there were ever a time to have empathy for others and to work to build an equitable system for all, it is now. If there were ever a time to get young people to think about our upcoming election, it is now.
How can we work to ensure the most vulnerable are protected? In the coming months, how can we make sure people have access to shelter, healthcare and food?
I’ll leave you with this wonderful post from Tumblr:
How are you coping with these tough times? How do you uplift yourself and others?
Stay Healthy and Stay Safe,