A beautiful mess...
That to me, is the way in which I would describe the whole Corona experience, or as I’d like to call it, the Covid Trilogy: Covid-19, Lockdown and Toilet Paper Mayhem (because seriously what the heck were people thinking buying that many toilet papers in 2020?).
With all jokes aside, this writing competition, purposed by Oxford University has asked me if the artistic film of Contagion Cabaret has influenced the way in which I viewed the Covid pandemic and lockdown itself. It’s safe to say that instead of influencing or changing it in any sort of way, it has at least allowed me to fully explore the perspective I have on it. Which, inevitably, is my belief that the Covid Pandemic was both a blessing and a curse.
Now before you all come at me with the pitchforks and torches, wondering how in the hell can I ever consider this a good thing, let me explain.
When corona first fled onto the scene, people had no idea what happened. One moment there were news about a new deadly virus infecting people, to reports about thousands of people being infected, to news about people already dying from it. It was that serious. Certainly, a way to kick off 2020 (which we would certainly like to forget).
Then like a wildfire, hubs and restaurants started to close. With public activities such as going to the gym and attending nightclubs being cancelled. All in which were passive aggressively stripped away from young adults, to prevent them from going to places where too many crowds would allow the black plague rip-off to spread like a zombie outbreak.
And just like that, by March 20, 2020, all schools were shut down with a first UK lockdown being announced. This led to me, having around 6 months to myself at home, with little to no work to do as the GCSE course was already over. My Year 11 experience came to an end and, in the blink of an eye, I had to say goodbye to my friends and peers, some who I would probably never see again, spending my time alone in solitude, only being able to converse with my friends through social media. Even that wasn’t enough.
Overall, a complete mess. Three months into the year and the world is already in chaos. Damn.
However, to many people, lockdown was a blessing. For students, this was a six-month break from school, with most of us being able to wake up at any time of the day we wanted, being able to play video games, catch up with our favourite TV-shows... hell, maybe even catch up with their education and exceed other students. The possibilities were endless... and then some. It was a lockdown after all. So, you won’t see people having the time to catch up with friends or save the world with their superpowers. (I wish that was a thing-dang it, now I want one- why can’t we live in a world of Marvel or DC?)
Yet, even though that six months from school, work and even life, may seem like a paradise... it was somewhat hell in the making. Forget actually being roasted alive; being alone in solitude was the real torture.
For starters, during the first two weeks of lockdown I found myself being ecstatic as I now had the liberty to sleep whenever I wanted and do whatever I wanted without having to interact with anyone in the outside world. (Being introverted is literally a whole mood) Then things started to go downhill; first off, I got bored, really bored, bored to the point where I talked to the wall about how bored I was. Unfortunately, this left me alone with my thoughts- which anyone can tell you is your own worst enemy. My automatic way of thinking and constant dwelling on the negative left me in a depressive state, amplified by the somber mood of quarantine and the inability to go outside and reconnect with life.
Now, you may be thinking, why are you telling us your backstory? Well... one, because it aids in my character development, two because this is my monologue and I can do whatever I want with it and three, because I’m trying to let you understand something.
Lockdown was depressing as hell. It was awful for the most part, many individuals, including extroverts, couldn’t cope with the idea of being confined in their homes with seemingly nothing to do. How could you ask someone to completely accept the change of pace, the alteration of having to go to work/school day by day, to now staying home indefinitely doing nothing but complain to yourself about how bored you are. It did not help with anyone’s mental health. What makes this worse is that this depressive state that I felt was even more depressing when we look at the likes of people who have quarantined themselves with abusive family members, with poor living conditions and even homeless people, who are constantly being told by politicians to stay at home. We are really living in an intelligent society. But as one girl on the internet once said if you’re homeless just by a house. We are evolving, just backwards.
So, as you can see, or hear depending if you’re blind and being read this: the lockdown was a complete mess for some people. There was no glimmer of hope for common-folk trapped in a political tragedy. Shakespeare: take note. With this in mind the overall standpoint would be to stay that the lockdown completely sucked. Right?
Well... yes and no. As I said, there was a strange beauty in this mess. Six months staying at home gave us something that we were severely lacking in our lives... time. For most people lockdown gave you two options: Either get to work and catch up with assignments, tasks, or chores you have to do, or get down and stay lazy cause you’ll never get this chance again to sleep for twelve hours straight. Be productive or get lazy (with an actual reason to be it).
Personally, I was a mixture: the bastard child. Often times, I was terribly unproductive, choosing to wallow in my own misery, despair and agony. Then, in contrast, I would engage in physical activities such as exercising in order to become the next Dwayne the Rock Johnson. And for the rest of the lockdown, it would enter a paradigm shift between the two - with watching anime, playing games, and educating myself a bit happening in between.
This extra time allowed people to dive deep into hobbies they had to neglect for their otherworldly responsibilities. Now we had the time to learn how to cook, how to dance, how to play an instrument and for me in particular, how to improve my drawing capabilities. Lockdown gave me, gave us, the chance to engage ourselves in activities that furthered our growth as human beings and allow us to focus on the positive sides of life. Sniff. That was beautiful. Think I teared up a little bit there.
As I said lockdown was beautiful mess. It was complicated to describe as the experience was rather new to this modern age. It was so unexpected that many jokingly stated that aliens would have a blast watching this season of earth, as the plot finally got interesting. Many made memes about the situation in order to over exaggerate how this felt like the end of the world. Others couldn’t wait to find out what other catastrophes each month had in store. And many others were left wondering what their friends looked like, as we were only limited by our anxiety, insecurities, and idiocy of only texting our peers instead of video calling them to know if they’re alive or not.
Social anxiety is a total B- (Gotta keep it PG now!)
But I digress. The overall point here is that the lockdown was definitely an experience. One that will never leave our minds. It will be both nostalgic and tragic. Especially since we are in our third lockdown in the UK... but at the time of April 2021, it has eased up a little, with a vaccine on the horizon. So, there’s some hope, I guess.
And as I said Contagion made me realise a couple things as we steadily move on into the current decade. That being... that we are paranoid. Rightfully and regrettably paranoid.
I have a friend who, once schools started to reopened, always cleaned the tables or computers that she’d use with wipes/disinfectant. This was of course to stop the spread of the virus and contamination. She’s also not the only one however, my current Psychology and Sociology teachers do the same and so do other students at my school. People are now wearing masks, afraid of getting any form of spit on their faces. People are now avoiding each other like the plague, with the two-meter distance rule taking full effective and people are now mindful of a coughing person; because if you cough it’s as if you just killed somebody’s grandma.
In 2019, this would be abnormal. In 2020-21, you are abnormal for not doing any of this. A person literally got arrested at one point for wiping his spit on a pole in one of the subways (disgusting, yes). This goes to show how serious we are at stopping this Covid monster. The main reason is that we are stripped of our freedom. We, as a society, like to believe that we are on top of the food chain, we are sentient beings with knowledge and wisdom that far transcends the likes of animals, plants, and even outer space as we are the greatest things known to man. It’s not like we can’t be killed by the same enigmas we claim to be smarter than... I hope you notice the sarcasm.
Anyways, we’ve gotten so use to being on top, to being number one and all of a sudden all of that was stripped away. We were, and still are, being DOMINATED by a virus that cannot even speak, yet knows how to manipulate the puppet strings in every step of the way. It knows how to take away our freedom and it is that absence of freedom that people long and wish for. The truth of the matter is that lockdown and Covid made us scared.
It showed us how people can be easily killed off left and right, showed us how the things we took for granted, such as the luxury to go outside and interact with others, can be lost and it also showed us that we are not invincible. It showed us in 1920, it showed us during the black plague and it is showing us now.
We are scared, we are angry, we are vulnerable and we long to be free. Free to hug our friends once again without worrying about infecting them, go to the movies, go on dates, go to nightclubs, attend schools, work again, go outside to avoid our families. We long for that freedom again, but going forward, that freedom will never be obtained... well at least in a while. Got be a bit optimistic here.
For the next five years or so, people will still be wearing masks, keeping two meters apart and sticking to a health code of conduct that doesn’t make them susceptible to something like this again.
Lockdown and Covid taught us to be cautious. We were like an animal in the wilderness, not understanding that we were the prey instead of the predator.
On a comedic note, Covid made me realise how melodramatic we can be. First off, why do we need more videos explaining to us how to wash our hands? Children I get, but teenagers and adults? Are you telling me no one washed their hands before this? Also, why in the hell did people overdose on toilet paper last year (2020)? I cannot believe that was a thing, like seriously, you don’t need that many, are you using one WHOLE roll just to wipe it down there?
The overall point to take here, is that the lockdown was complicated. It came out of nowhere, and rearranged our lifestyles like how one keeps rearranging a Rubik’s cube. This analogy proves that there’s no clear way to say whether or not this was a blessing or a curse, as it held many advantages and disadvantages, with the experiences being different for many different people.
As a result, this Covid trilogy of medical disaster, was terrible, eventful, uneventful, fun, boring, depressing, anti-climactic and every other word in the Oxford Dictionary that I cannot hope to imitate here.
It sure was a hell of an experience though.
A psychological thriller to remember.
A beautiful mess...
This monologue was brought to you by a 17-year-old who has absolutely no idea what he’s doing.
― Camoy Reid, Year 13