It seems that there needs to be some sort of fundamental shift in the global geopolitical picture in order to get me to write a blogpost nowadays; and the last one, on the collapse of Afghanistan, I didn’t even get around to publishing. The time for that seems long passed, now. We’re in yet another future—one where not only is Britain not in the EU; not only did our lives get upended by a global pandemic; not only did the previous insane US president incite a mob to attack his own capital; not only did the republican government of Afghanistan collapse like a cold soufflé; BUT the Russians have just gone and invaded Ukraine for basically no reason, and turned pretty much the entire world against them.
I must not be alone in feeling this sensation: viewing the world with the kind of uncomfortable ache of watching everything being undermined and going to shit. Kind of like I were George Lucas, having just sold Star Wars to Disney—only unlike Lucas, I have to keep going to the cinema to watch them butcher everything I thought I knew.
It’s like time is paused, that’s how it feels. As we head into another lockdown, I found myself absently sifting through my games library on Steam. It has the ability to sort by date last played, which is a harrowing experience that makes you realise actually how little time you have for games in your life these days. Some of my favourites have gone unplayed for literally years. There are games I have been big into lately and feel I played “the other day” that I haven’t touched since this time last year.
But it isn’t just that, of course. The rhythm of the day has settled into a kind of mantra: keep working, stay home, don’t socialise because it’s not worth the hassle. The patterns are starting to etch permanence onto how I think. I forgot there was a time when children could stay with other people if they actually wanted them there. I forgot that normally, I don’t need to sidestep back a meter if my dad wants to pass me in the hall.
In any case, the sensation is like time isn’t moving. Or–it is, alarmingly so, but nothing is changing; as the months fly off the calendar. I feel like the stress has aged me ten years. We’re all holding out for a return to normality, I know, but it helps to remind oneself that there is such a thing.
Speaking of returning to normality, it’s the US election. I wonder if there’ll be a return to sane & actually respectable statesmanship too? I’m not holding out much hope on that one.
Tomorrow the UK will significantly loosen its lockdown precautions and –boy– it’s been a fun few months hey? Feels as though this year is going to be like one of those days where you wait for everyone to be free, spending time procrastinating and not really doing anything; only to have it all fall through and just end up going to bed, making a note to try again tomorrow.
It shouldn’t have to, though. For someone like me with all the resources (besides time) still very much at my disposal for what I do, it should’ve been an opportunity for me to get on unhindered and somehow maximise on the situation. And what is the situation, exactly?
Yes, given that this is the single biggest change to human behaviour to have happened in my lifetime, I should probably say something about it. Covid-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus, crept up on just about everyone. At first it was a foreign news story. Then it was a casually-dismissed threat, laughed off by arrogant politicians. Then it was a real issue, with a creeping wave of precautions. But eventually, it became apparent that containment had failed and we were all going to need to do something drastic.
Far too many ignored the warnings and carried on regardless. In the UK, as in many places, government was eventually forced to bring in a lockdown: no travel except essential, no visitors even family, work from home except if that isn’t possible; in which cases, don’t work at all unless you’re providing essentials for people to live. If you’re reading this today, you probably wonder why I’m bothering to explain it; just about everyone has seen something similar happen where they live; it may not be unprecedented as a pandemic, but as a social change there really has never been anything so sudden, widespread and life-altering. And the crazy thing is, if I’d posted this blog even just the start of this year, it would read like just another weird “what if” science-fiction scenario.