Tossing, turning, and chewing on the unknown was the bulk of my internal life at the onset of COVID-19. It still is to a lesser extent. Like others, the rollout of the virus began with an indifference that quickly morphed to waves of panic. Ballooning cases in the US, economic catastrophe, and a statewide shutdown made sure of this.
But as the anxiety has shuttered itself into a new normal I’ve found what’s been most pervasive, in both myself and others, is the breakdown of time and place.
Humans are relentless in their commitment to adaptation, even the extreme as I’ve learned, but adaptation only goes so far in societal identity when the floor has fallen out.
Observation in myself and others has shown me that sensible sleep schedules have gone out the window, days have little meaning, and nothing ever quite feels settled. You might say it’s the natural slide of a mind overflow with stress, and it’s true, but I also believe it’s due to the disappearance of scheduling, rhyme, and reason of daily life.
Most of us have had years of habitual behavior and the clockwork of society to fall back on. Any subsequent change is usually a slow burn as opposed to a big bang.
COVID-19, in the face of this, has been a jarring push to a future speculated decades out and a piece of history that couldn’t possibly apply today.
As much as humans have the propensity for change, most will become disproportionately angry at the slightest sign of it. The maturation of the internet has even made it a hobby for many.
Every year millions throw a collective tantrum over time moving forwards or backwards. It’s easy to see how decoupling ourselves from the cadence of everything could result in mass confusion.
There are too many people where there shouldn’t be, not enough where there should, the tether of relationships is gone, and very little overall to push and pull us in a way that makes sense.
The unrelenting fury of global development is only fuel to the collective cotton brained fire. Daily life is no longer feels organic but rather something akin to an over caffeinated writers room desperately shouting any idea that comes to mind. When an already fast paced news cycle is pushed to the extreme it’s hard not to feel as though you’re living in a movie with unsettling pacing.
All of this, for most of us, has created a fork in time that’s no longer able to get back on track. The natural inclination for humans to latch onto the familiar is no longer possible and it’s the first time that most have had to relinquish any semblance of control. COVID-19’s curation of free fall, as a result, has arguably made the start of this decade just as much an existential crisis as one of economy and health.