Quarantine, shelter in place—whatever you’re calling it wherever you are—is horrifying. If hell is other people, being forced to keep all people outside a six-foot perimeter makes a strong case for purgatory-on-Earth. But in the fleeting moments where I’m feeling pollyannaish about this catastrophe, social isolation is also strangely liberating.
What I’m saying is: In this golden moment of loneliness and unaccountability, you should do some dumb stuff.
Nothing that endangers your safety or the safety of others—what I’m talking about are the development of eccentrics, the pursuit of totally meaningless aims, the on-a-whim personal decisions that, with more visibility and less time to yourself, would probably be unthinkable.
We’re all losing it a little. Try to have a little fun before the next panic attack is all I’m proposing.
I polled a few of my Gizmodo colleagues (who’s specific contributions will remain unattributed) and found they more or less fell into one of three categories.
Physical debasement: “I’ve started wearing my vape on a chain around my neck like a Juul-addicted latchkey kid,” wrote one editor, apparently freed of all bodily shame. A fellow writer claims to have bleached her hair and “tried waxing my own eyebrows,” the results of which were sub-optimal. Who’s gonna see it? Nobody!
Escapism: “Getting into D&D,” wrote another editor. “Getting into TikTok,” admitted a third. These speak for themselves.
Compulsions: One Gizmodo writer claimed to be “farming ‘shinies’ in Pokemon Sword and Shield,” which means nothing to me personally but I’m led to believe it’s incredibly tedious. Live your truth! Another admitted to “panic-buying out-of-print lego and gunpla models,” which, honestly I don’t know that those are a great use of the world’s already-strained logistics systems right now, but I respect that in a time when people are hoarding essential items, this writer’s instinct was to amass the two things that will instantly lose the most value as soon as the world economy collapses.
While many homebound individuals are learning to bake for the first time, a coworker of mine noted that he’s “trying to figure out how to make salty snacks like goldfish and pretzels and other stuff I have no business trying to make myself.” You can still buy goldfish and pretzels and other stuff basically anywhere. That’s not the point though. He’s going to come out the other side of this stronger and stranger.
Personally? I’ve turned every piece of furniture in my apartment into some ersatz gym machine, and, in lieu of other high-risk behaviours, I’ve been buying and delivering essential goods to families in need in my neighbourhood. (If you’re also in New York, here’s a non-exhaustive list of mutual aid groups.) Depending on how long the quarantine lasts, I might start giving myself stick-and-poke tattoos, or composing EDM, or learning tarot. Nothing matters and all we have is time to become our dumbest selves.
When this plague is over, I will be expansive and unkillable.