By Matt Rogan
To some, a government-mandated lockdown would signify a world in crisis; for me, preparation for the apocalypse began as soon as Eurovision was cancelled.
We are in unchartered territory. A national lockdown seemed like a blessing for introverts and pets and a curse for extroverts and parents. In this day and age, where food can be delivered, friends can be video-called and dating is as simple as swiping right, it’s remarkable that we’re only now referring to everyday interaction as ‘social distancing’.
I wanted to utilise my time in self-isolation productively and that was my first priority when I began to create my ‘quarantine bucket list’. I reminded myself to maximise on the opportunities at hand rather than the limitations imposed. The list was wide-ranging, from the mundane activities, like finally reading the book I was gifted two Christmas’ ago, to more personal goals like introducing more vegan products and less gin into my diet.
Undeniably, the list presented some silver linings: working from home meant flexible hours, dating apps meant I could still harmlessly flirt without the attached baggage and going to the gym was totally out of the question.
Regardless of how I would choose to dictate my time, quarantine had already become a test of how you should be dictating your time. I noticed an abundance of feigned online productivity that felt more than helpful. Even the nationwide gesture to #ClapForOurCarers felt like an inadequate thanks to those at the forefront of this pandemic.
Instagram became a competitive stream of bread-baking connoisseurs and personal training entrepreneurs. Facebook became a constant news broadcast from family acquaintances-cum-amateur journalists. Houseparty became the sole entertainment source in my house as we played together in separate rooms.
Within the second week of self-isolation, my daily life quickly settled into a new routine. The morning ‘this is surreal’ text message was sent and returned, the nibbling urge to cut my own hair everyday was constant and my only glimpse of nature was through my laptop’s default wallpaper.
As I was suffering from excessive screen time (whatever you do, don’t click on Apple’s ScreenTime function), I became obsessed with making lists. I wrote down and ranked everything imaginable; from my favourite songs, to biscuits, to emoji’s, to family members (the results of which will remain safely stored in my dystopian time capsule).
Yet minutes later, I returned to the only friends I could see (those of the TV show). It wasn’t until I found myself tearfully trying to resuscitate the dead television remote batteries that I realised I was beginning to spiral.
All hope had not been lost yet though, I had not bowed to social pressure or downloaded TikTok yet.
I downloaded TikTok.
Replicating the extensive dance choreography on this app is much easier said than done. Though I originally thought this was a nifty way to incorporate some physical exercise into my day, I soon sacrificed my potential viral TikTok career to find a real workout. After all, keeping sane meant keeping active.
The inescapable feeling of being confined was beginning to take its toll. Inanimate objects and concepts became my best friends (and enemies). Mother Nature seemed to be taunting me with cloudless blue skies and the street lights almost looked smug in the outdoor breeze.
My daily walk consisted of receiving two- nods of approval from my fellow comrade’s. It felt like we were banded together (metaphorically rather than literally) by making cautious attempts to stay clear of someone else’s incoming pathway.
It was at this point where the days began merging into one and though only 21 days into , trying to pinpoint a time to the memory became challenging. Surrounded by the ruins of the last three weeks, I shrugged off the annual spring clean, inexcusable this year as I had literally nowhere else to be.
Instead, I sat with a book in one hand and a glass of gin in the other, wondering whether my pre-hermit self would be satisfied with my current life on pause.