(Pictured: my town, Madison, Wisconsin, at twilight.)
At our house, life on lockdown is not much different than life every other day. The Mrs. has worked at home, downstairs on what used to be our dining room table, since 2012. I do whatever work I can manage to find in my upstairs office, as I have done since I quit corporate life in 2003, unless I have radio to do, or a class to teach. But both radio and teaching are done for the foreseeable future. (The part-time staff at my stations are off the schedule for the duration.) And that’s fine, really. I am not sorry to be limiting my exposure to the outside world, even though I’ll miss being on the radio in a time such as this.
One thing that has surprised me about the lockdown so far is how little I have missed watching sports. It’s too bad that my teams didn’t get to play in the college basketball and hockey postseasons, but I don’t pay much attention to the NBA and MLB in normal times, and while I watch the NHL playoffs, I don’t plan my life around it. So far, repeats of games from out of the past are holding me over nicely. If this were the fall, I would miss football, but the NFL offseason is unfolding normally, so there’s no void to feel. But ask me again in September.
So The Mrs. and I are doing about as well as anybody can under these conditions. We hope that we will continue to be fine, although the next month to six weeks will be especially hard for all of us, no matter where we are. It’s not just the spectacle of suffering we will witness, or the fear of joining the sufferers. It’s the continuing requirement to alter the way we live. And as social distancing becomes second nature, those of us who have lived a lot of our lives online these last several years may need to start distancing within that life as well.
It’s been said that if acetaminophen—Tylenol—came up for FDA approval today, it would never get it because of its potential for damaging side effects even with relatively small doses. Nevertheless, we keep taking it because it’s useful, and it’s so ubiquitous. It occurs to me that social media is the same way. We would not have approved of it if we’d known how it would cheapen every kind of discourse and amplify the voices of people whose opinions are worthless—if we’d known how bad it is for our mental health, even with relatively small doses. But we keep taking it because it’s useful, and it’s so ubiquitous.
There are two types of people on social media that I have grown quite tired of these last couple of weeks. The first are the ones bitching about being bored. With a world-historical and unique opportunity to pursue anything you want to do beyond having to show up for work every day, it took two weeks before you ran out of ideas and desire? The second are the ones who think they’re CNN. I see people on Facebook posting literally two dozen news stories a day, often the most doomiest/gloomiest pieces out there. This must scratch some sort of psychological itch for these people, but it’s not an itch I share, or one I particularly want to know the details of.
Related: when you find a story describing in vivid detail people dying horribly after the virus shuts down their lungs, maybe don’t race to post it on Facebook. We all know that shit is bad, we’re all afraid that we’ll get it, and those who are A) able and/or B) sensible are trying like hell to avoid it. So what are you trying to accomplish by throwing it in our faces?
Read the room, people.
Like millions around the world, I have more time on my hands than usual. So I’m taking requests. If there’s something you’d like to read about, please let me know what it is: dig into a particular song or artist, do a ranking of some sort, answer a question, write about some specific date, whatever. You’ll help me pass the time, and in exchange you’ll get something you can use to pass the time. Put it in the comments below, or send me a private message in any of the several ways listed under “contact jb” at the top of this page.