5 April 2020

Postcards from the Lockdown: Divided We Stand

“Some people carefree, some anxious. The sword of Damocles for all” Pierre Brossolette.

Day 13 of the lockdown. Various conspiracy theories and theorists keep on popping up in conversations and social feeds, and there's no lack of ears listening to them at the moment. American's did it on purpose, no! it was Chinese with their bio-dis-information warfare, they are planning to take the world's lead! All is being shared, copied and pasted, looked at without any degree of skepticism. Who said that? What are the sources, evidence, proof? What are the reasons behind it? Why would those countries started such actions at the cost of their own people? At this point you can bring any fantastical theory to life without much of critique because people seem to be preoccupied with fear and confusion, easy pray for scaremongers.

Watching BBC news for 2 minutes the other day gave me anxiety so strong I decided to avoid it altogether and only digest the news through reading it online at my own custom. It's not always news itself it's the way people are presenting it to you, the words and sentences they are using, deeply hidden fears and prejudices come into play, when we throw pandemic to the mix subconscious kicks in. Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to play tough, everyone has a breaking point, interrogators know this truth for hundreds of years, but giving any credit to all those fantastical theories is just sad. Switch it off, turn the page, go for a walk or read something relatable, believe it or not but this kind of things happened in the past and will inevitably happen in the future, what matter is how well we are (in various ways) prepared for it and what optimal course of action should be taken.

There's surprising amount of parallels we can draw from cosmonauts orbiting around in space shuttles, Chris Hatfield retired cosmonaut from the Canadian Space Agency, made a very good video in which he explains how to deal with isolation in space, it all boils down to few simple rules, in words of yet another researcher Alexander Chouker, a physician researcher who studies stress immunology at the University of Munich: “Create as much structure and predictability as you can with the pieces of your life that you do have control over.” Hatfield adds: "Understand the actual risk, don't just be afraid of things. Go to a credible source and find out what is truly the risk you are facing right now.  And then what are you trying to accomplish, what you want to get done. Then look at your constraints. Once you understand the risk, your mission and your obligation then take action." An Astronauts Guide To Self Isolation.

It's been two weeks and I believe that at this point for some of us loneliness and lack of physical contact with friends and family kicks in hard. As amazing (and fucking god-awful) as social media can be, there's only that much we can transcribe to others through them [youtube just recommended me song "Loneliness" by Wintersun by the way, speaking of online life, thanks youtube!] Things can get mixed up along the way, something you meant to post as funny, comes out rude, something in your opinion important and serious comes out silly at the other end, and there's really no telling or fixing it most of the time - you have to put a deep trust in your interlocutor, and build a new heavily restricted way of communication, knowing full well that it won't give you the same sense of satisfaction and fulfillment as a regular conversation. It's kind of bullshit if you ask me.

Queen Elizabeth II addressed the British nation today in a speech, she seems to be doing them less than once a decade when the crisis strikes (only 5 speeches like this happened so far). I don't really care much about royal family, but I fail to despise Elizabeth as a person, she is a role model able to lift morale and speak from her own experience and when there's more questions than answers around, I can respect that.

Here's some pictures from today's walk around Canterbury, lazy Sunday afternoon.


Deserted playground, normally it would be swarmed with kids at this point:


Two old friends or perhaps a couple isolating, sitting on a bench:


New paths in the grass being carved by the isolating people:


On the other hand the path itself was teeming with life: