I had promised myself that I would never come here to write about anything outright negative, but alas, I own the place and can do whatever I want. Okay, that did not sound too nice… Allow me to restart. The nature of what I’ve been thinking over the last week has really reflected 2020’s culture shift, and I would be remiss if I did not share these thoughts because surely one of you out there is feeling the same way. Better, right? So, what do I mean by ‘the year of disrespect’? Well, with December looming, I think it’s safe to say that human beings have said and done THE MOST this year, more than ever before. One of my best friends said it with the most accurate wording: “audacity went on sale this year.” And in truth, everyone bought it and decided to share it out like candy. All throughout the year I kept asking, “is this a joke?” We had and still have bigger issues to deal with, so why is everyone acting wild? As each month progressed, it just seemed like things became increasingly dire, and here we are about to end the year on a disastrous note. My question is, if we don’t talk about this now and decide what the next course of action is, how will 2021 be any better? Here is what I’ve been thinking:
What is going on?
If you interact with other Homo Sapiens on a day-to-day basis, it might be safe to assume that you will relate to what I’m about to say. It seems everyone from friends to colleagues, family to lovers, employers to leaders, and long-time acquaintances all lost their collective marbles this year when they woke up and decided to be more selfish than ever. It’s like everyone became an asshole who made the decision to look out for number one and not even hide it. We’re all a bit selfish sometimes and there are various different ways to interpret that word, but when you desire a certain outcome, you don’t usually yell it from the skies. I swear, these past few months I’ve seen people do some of the most blatant shit ever. Racist shit. Sexist shit. Hateful shit. Manipulative shit. Unhealthy shit. Unethical shit. All kinds of shit. People who’ve known you for years and years have just up and decided to mess you up because they don’t feel like they have to cover their tracks anymore. Quite frankly, no one cares anymore. No one cares about each other, and it’s become every man for themselves. What hurts me the most is that the loyalty and honor system went out the window for the first time in 2020. All of the things that you and I have done for others suddenly lost meaning and importance. For us, we still remember the good in others, what they’ve contributed to our lives, and why we need to respect them, but the feeling is certainly no longer mutual. It’s fucking disappointing, and downright disgusting.
What is causing this?
There is only one thing I can think of that could have shifted humanity’s culture on such a grand scale, and it also happens to be the biggest thing that’s ever happened to us humans in this current lifetime: COVID-19. Let me start by saying, no, I am not claiming there is a physical property of the virus changing people (unless it is, because you know I love a good conspiracy theory). I’m referring to the fallout of being locked down, restricted, and under constant fear. I touched on a bit of this earlier in the year here and here, but ultimately, I believe what COVID-19 really spurred was the total embrace of technology in order to survive. For many of us, social media is what kept our relationships active and alive. Many families have adapted to video-chatting for celebrations, while many businesses sent their workforce home to work remotely. You can’t chill in public with your friends anymore, you can’t party it up at big events in grandeur with loved ones, and you can’t be outside to simply kill time because you don’t want to be at home. The internet has become the gateway to connections and distractions now more than ever, and social media and online correspondence has vastly become and societal norm in 2020. If you had asked me a year ago how I felt about embracing technology to allow for more web-based communication and working from home, I would have jumped for joy at the thought: I’m a huge advocate for technology, sometimes I want to interact with people, but just not in person, and being able to work in the comfort of one’s own home is like an unspoken dream. Yet, having experienced it all this year, I feel the complete opposite. Why? Well, because we’ve gone too far.
What really went wrong?
The problem with online relations is probably the most obvious thing in the world: it removes the physical attributes of human interaction. Again, it’s obvious and it has been a key problem with situations like online-dating and making friends in other countries for decades now. Although, there’s always been an odd bonus in there, being that you could always ‘drop’ any relationship you didn’t care for at any time without the typical remorse. For example, it’s hard to go up to a colleague whom you’ve become close to and say, “I’m done with you,” when you two work in unison everyday together for hours at a time. There follows discomfort, shame, drama, and even loathing because you continue to see the person regularly and study the outcome of your actions. In the digital world, what it really boils down to is ‘out of sight, out of mind‘. You can’t regret hurtful actions to someone you don’t have to physically see. Unless you’re super empathetic and have a golden conscience, it’s easier to ghost someone who can’t find you or confront you. The same principle has started to apply to all of us in this current world pandemic. The difference is that we know our family, friends, lovers, and colleagues well because we used to see them all the time. Now, add months and months of confinement into the equation and we’re nearing a calendar year since a lot of these measures came into play, meaning that we’ve been seeing people less and less. What’s the fallout? Well, for example, when you think about the workplace, if you came from an environment where you were already stressed out and pushed to the maximum before transitioning to work from home, what is stopping your employer from upping the demand? You can now be assigned unlimited work because the expectation is you will have to get it done no matter what, without over time pay or additional extensions. They can’t SEE YOU struggling anymore. There is no risk of you breaking down emotionally in front of the other colleagues and creating panic. Even if you did have a breakdown, no one can prove they had anything to do with it because they weren’t physically around you. Your work can be stolen, your name burried in the mud, opportunities taken away from you, and much more because you are just an employee number behind a screen. The same can be said about friendships; remember, everyone on the internet has balls. Those balls come from what I mentioned earlier about not having to face the person physically, so there is no fear left. Imagine when your friends start telling you things they would never say to your face all because they aren’t afraid of having to face you. It’s interesting what the removal of physical activity can do to humans when you consider that even longtime friends are suddenly putting you in a position where they can walk away from the relationship just because they don’t see you anymore. And what of dating? The thing is, men and women will say anything to you when they are horny and lonely, additionally stringing you along for a very long ride. There are no consequences to all of the romantic and seductive things they offer to you because they can call it off at any point knowing that socially distancing is a valid excuse. Guess who is left sitting there with hurt feelings? The best of us, who trust and believe in people. Hiding behind an IP address has boosted our confidence and arrogance, and taken away our humanity. It’s safe to say that as this stage, there is no difference between chatting with a human or a robot. At least the robot is programmed to honor its code.
What else is occurring?
On an opposite note to what I discussed above, the lack of being able to go out as much or at all has brought many of us into this lockdown state (quite literally in many places). Depending on where you’re secluded, you’ve undoubtedly become very used to the four walls you’ve been confined to for the last year. For many of us, our homes have become a sort of prison, and like prison, you can have two outcomes: either you build a family with those around you, or you start to feud and become enemies. This scenario can widely range from each person to the next because some live with family, others with friends, and some by themselves. All of these arrangements have their upsides and downsides. I’ve found for me that living with my family has become brutally unbearable. As it is, we had ongoing issues beforehand, but the process of every individual going out to work or to spend time elsewhere allowed breathing room for all of us. Now with working from home and lockdown measures, there is no choice other than to live with each other and even tackle those unaddressed issues. Suddenly the house isn’t big enough for any of us to live in. You see, there is a delicate balance to things for us humans. While no physical interaction creates a world without connection, empathy, kindness, and consequences, too much physical interaction can create problems. We need to breathe and have moments to ourselves in order to reflect and grow. Being surveilled and ruled every single day when you’re a grown adult is not what anyone dreams of, and with the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, there is quite literally nowhere to run.
What happens next?
Forget about what is to come because it’s already happening. Relationships are being strained, tested, and damaged. The uniqueness of our ability to love, care, and be passionate is also our downfall because the breaking of these alliances also triggers sadness, anger, and immense hurt. Imagine several key areas start deteriorating all at once:
- Your house of family, where: either seeing your family too often due to the lockdown exposes you to underlying issues that are now surfacing and you can’t escape them, OR the distance created from living alone and not seeing them often is causing you great loneliness.
- Your house of friends, where: bonds you’ve held for years are being tested by the social distance and online interferences. People are changing rapidly due to their own issues and they start to realize they are tired and frustrated, so they lash out at you too.
- Your house of careers, where: you’re being slave-driven and pushed to your limits while other colleagues are getting promoted and recognized just because they know how to maximize social interaction online, OR you’ve already thrown in the towel and now can’t find new work and are in financial jeopardy.
- Your house of love, where: your existing relationship is dying without the physical activity, OR you can’t seem to find someone to curb your immense loneliness at this time because there is no commitment without the physical.
Grab everything above and combine it with the holiday season coming up, where we already tend to go through a winter depression. On top of that, add in the COVID-19 depression that has been ongoing and only getting worse in some places (Ontario being one of them). You see, this overwhelming dystopia has been created where we’re all falling into a state we’ve never been in before. There is no word for it, and each day we are making things worse by shifting increasingly from being humane to disrespectful.
What do we do now?
If you venture to think I have the answers, you are severely mistaken. What I do have, though, are suggestions that I can give to you all as well as to myself. We’re in uncharted territory my friends and there is no rulebook for how to handle any of this bullshit, so we’ll have to make it up as we go along.
For starters, I said this before, and I will say it again: learn how to pray and meditate. I’ll admit, I haven’t been doing it lately out of pure laziness, and I can tell this is what is contributing to the way I’m feeling these days. We are all feeling trapped and unable to escape, but just remember that in your mind there is a vast expanse that is limitless. The journey from your heart to your brain, and then back to your limbs is exhilarating, so close your eyes and center yourself. For everything people continue to throw at you, ground yourself even further and stay strong, because COVID will come to an end and we’ll want to emerge resilient, not broken.
Secondly, don’t fight for/beg for anyone to stay. As annoyed and hurt as you are, everyone who is making a fool of themselves right now is paving the way for new beginnings and putting you back into the driver’s seat. You now have full control over how these relationships proceed or don’t proceed moving forward. Part of the aging process includes the natural shedding of friends because you outgrow those who don’t grow with you and create space for better companions to come along. COVID could just be the catalyst that allowed this to happen for us on a larger scale and with a bigger impact. This is a test, and anyone who can’t pass the test isn’t worth your time and effort. Don’t worry about what will happen to them… they will have to realize their mistakes and shortcomings at some point while you are off doing bigger things with your life.
Third, take everything as a lesson learned and as foreshadowing for the future. If your home situation is driving you up the wall or your workplace is causing your mental harm, it’s a sign that you must move on. You can lament about how unfair it is after all you’ve invested, but maybe this is the universe’s way of prompting you to make moves of your own. If you felt comfortable all the time, would you ever seek out anything better? Or, if you only felt mildly or temporarily upset about your surroundings, wouldn’t you continue settling for less? The Lord pushes us through various means to be our best and achieve our best, so use this lockdown time as the golden opportunity to research next steps. Start sorting your finances and looking into moving out. Start fixing up your resume and applying to different jobs. Our actions might be limited while COVID continues to linger, but we can certainly have all the answers ready for when this hell is finally over.
Lastly, stay true to who you are and don’t falter like those around you. Notice I didn’t say, “don’t change.” The truth is that we’ve all changed during this time and will most likely continue to change as we venture into 2021. This change, though, doesn’t have to be negative; let’s call it refinement. It’s a time to refine what you want out of life and who you want to have it with. The hustle and bustle of normal life has been a long-standing excuse for many of us (especially me) to not tackle certain tasks and issues. However, there is now all of this ample time to reflect and really plan moves. Let people act the way they want to because karma will sort them out good when their time comes. Instead, continue to be kind to those who are kind to you. Continue to be loving, understanding and patient. Continue to be thoughtful and curious. Continue to be you. With that being said, don’t be afraid to embrace a change in outlook and a change in the value you see in yourself. You don’t need to stand for bullshit, and you don’t need to entertain anything that doesn’t serve your greater good.
Okay, I feel better now after mapping everything out. The truth is that before I started writing this, I didn’t know what I was going to do to remove myself from this rabbit-hole. I still don’t exactly know how everything will fall into place, but I have to hope and be optimistic that THIS IS NOT IT. We all do. COVID-19 regrettably meant the end of life for many people around the world and has led to so much tragic loss. This doesn’t have to be the end for those of us who are still in good physical health and still mentally sound. The pandemic will end and give many of us a second chance to place ourselves on the right path. The most crucial thing now is to send all of those disrespectful words, actions, and energies straight back to hell where they belong, and realign our focus onto ourselves and what we can do to make our own lives better tomorrow.
ARTICLE ARTWORK“Sad man sitting silhouette” Vecteezy www.vecteezy.com/vector-art/639955-sad-man-sitting-silhouette.