A Pandemic Rant

Fragmented thoughts on isolation, identity, and technology in the pandemic-paradigm

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Humans were chiseled, gradually nurtured, by the invisible forces of evolution to run free: bipedality liberated us from the trees of the forests, unleashing us upon the deserts, savannas, and seas. Out of eons of natural selection emerged prehensile hands, capable of carving intricate tools designed to kill, wound, or protect — a marvelous feat of evolution that is today, across much of the known world, deployed in rhythmically tapping on aluminum metal. The force that guided humans into this undeniable present, whether creationist, teleological, or evolutionary, designed humans for many things — being isolated to a concrete block was not one of them.

We are simply not wired to wander about it [the concrete block], eat, drink, and spend much of the day within it performing concentrated cognitive activity while staring at an illuminated screen.

They say we have undergone a cognitive revolution — yet we fail to heed the glaring biological signals — itchy eyes, explosive headaches, and unbounded fatigue underscoring the blurring days and nights — that are screaming at us to get off the devices — but where to go?

It’s the journey that matters. The purpose-driven commute or necessary walk that resets, refuels, pauses; without the pauses, the interminable ceaselessness of substance takes over. Without the barrier of space separating two distinct activities, substance remains continuous, spatially unsegmented. And without the necessity of a commute to navigate a barrier of space, so too disappears the barrier of time. And demands become outrageous — flipping timezones, fluctuating 6am/3am shifts, consecutive meetings — the logistical constraints that once demanded the respect of our overseers have been disrupted away by big tech.

The stars, sun and sky once measured temporal contiguity — today, we use screen-time. Meticulously quantifying periods of active and passive neural stimulation to pride or chide ourselves on a day’s utility. Productivity determines self-concept and identity, even more so in a world where social reinforcers are limited. While our social identities, in the eyes of those we have met over a screen, have been reduced to moving thumbnails.

Stress hormones served to keep humans alive in emergency situations — today, they perform the same survival function by plaguing those who dare venture into the outdoors with a sinking dread that they may contract a deadly virus; that they may infect vulnerable populations; endless complex but non-trivial apprehensions slowly compounding, coalescing, stifled behind the restraint of a mandatory mask.

A rant transformed into a stream of consciousness, and is now searching for a purposeful ending — but the end isn’t here just yet. Only a few months more now.

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