Hands up if before lockdown you’d never heard of Zoom!
Hands up if after five months of non-stop Zooming you know what it is and now you’re completely and utterly sick of it?
And So It Began...
When the COVID-19 lockdown was enforced way back in March, it was difficult to truly comprehend the scope of it.
What, we can’t go out?
But it’ll just be for a week or two right?
What, the Euros are off?
But not Glastonbury, Glastonbury will be okay, because, well, it’s Glastonbury…
What, Glastonbury’s off?
Batten Down The Hatches
Suddenly my husband and I were stranded – our apartment had gone from a cosy nesting place on a bustling street in Barcelona, to a small ship adrift at sea.
This was serious, and we needed to prepare.
That first weekend we started by taking inventory of what we had, and what we’d need to get through the lockdown. It went something like this:
- Internet – check
- iPhone – check
- Netflix and Prime Video subscriptions – check
- Laptop – check
- Kindle - check
- Barcelona themed Monopoly, sealed in plastic for the past two years because I strongly dislike that game and not even a lockdown will make me play it – check
Our inventory was complete and we were ready to face this crisis head on.
Well, almost head on.
In one last desperate buying frenzy, my husband invested in a rowing machine, and clinging to the last strands of youth, decided it was also essential to buy an X-Box. Because, I guess, when the going gets tough, the tough play FIFA.
It looked like technology was going to be the thing that helped us to weather the storm and guide us into calmer waters. We were adrift in a small apartment with no garden and no outside time was permitted.
But what did that matter? Because outside is so 2019! We had technology, and with it we had the world at our fingertips!
The First Few Weeks
The first few weeks were like a crash course in ‘how to have an unhealthy relationship with tech’.
It was spent in a blur of terrible Zoom calls with everyone speaking at once.
But that wasn't the worst bit. That was the ten minutes of every call that was spent with people who were high on the novelty of changing their backgrounds:
“Look, I’m in space!”
“No John, you're not. You’re in your terribly decorated flat in Enfield.”
I so often wanted to give people a ‘thumbs down’ but apparently according to Zoom, a thumbs up or applause is all they deserve. I'm sorry Zoom, but this is unrealistic. Sometimes people deserve a thumbs down and no applause.
And the news, my god, THE NEWS!
Those first few weeks, I felt like an on-the-ground reporter, determined to break this Coronavirus story wide open! I can’t tell you how many hours I spent chopping from website to website, flicking from news channel to news channel looking for the latest scoop.
During that time, I learnt a lot about the 24 hour news cycle – it is incredibly boring and totally unnecessary. Let's just bring back a good old fashioned episode of Neighbours followed by the 6 O'Clock News every day.
Peter Sissons and Moira Stewart.
They were all we ever needed.
Can You Spell Addictive?
For me, technology was getting old fast. And it was starting to affect my mental health.
I quickly discovered that Zoom fatigue was a very real thing. I was anxious from the replaying of apocalyptic news stories and feeling panicky. And I’d watched everything on Netflix (my finger hovering dangerously over the remote deciding whether I should re-watch the entire series of Glee was a low point).
I’d also foolishly downloaded a scrabble game on my phone that was scarily addictive and as a result of my constant game play, I couldn't fully concentrate on Glee, or any of the news channels I had become obsessed with.
A-D-D-I-C-T-I-V-E – I’d get 16 points for that.
I was becoming a cyborg, but not a cool crime fighting one like Robocop. I was a boring, reactive, incredibly drained one with the attention span of a flea (disclaimer - I have no real knowledge of the mind of fleas, they could be an extremely focused species and if so, I would like to sincerely apologise to the entire flea community).
Oh, there was a high point - A few weeks in, my hubbie got England to the World Cup final on FIFA. We lost it on penalties (props to FIFA for the realism).
So, highs and lows really.
But the point is, my new lockdown life was hopelessly reliant on technology and screens, and I didn’t like it.
I didn’t like it at all.
Giving In To The Dark Side...
We were only 8 weeks in and it was a pivotal moment.
What was I to do?
Would I fully give myself to technology and fall into the dark side, or was it time to unplug?
Everyone loves a cliffhanger…so, sorry folks, but you’ll need to wait for part-2 of this blog to see what happened next and if I survived lockdown.
Spoiler - I did survive lockdown.