When it comes to the age of Covid-19 and social distancing, I have found one thing that unifies us: isolation. We have all been held up in our homes, studio apartments, and rooms for God-knows how long; we are across the country and in many cases in other countries; we have traded frat parties and tables at our favorite clubs for wine Zoom calls and socially-distanced picnics.
Everyone I have talked to has said they have never felt more isolated and I agree, but for me being around others makes me feel the most lonely.
As I scroll through social media, I find myself overcome with emotion as I read commentary from people I have considered friends vocalizing their beliefs. In many cases, I am surprised: surprised to see some voicing their support for equality and an end to racism, but horrified to read others denying the experiences of others; even worse, to see some people not say anything at all.
If I went on Facebook and wrote, “Fuck bullying 2020,” I guarantee everyone would flood my comments and ask if I am ok; they would denounce bullying and continue to comment how much they “fucking” hate bullying as well.
But if I went on Facebook and wrote, “Fuck racism 2020,” then all of a sudden I am radical, angry, too liberal; I should keep these beliefs off the Internet because they make people feel attacked.
This knowledge of how many respond makes me want to be alone. Even in the cases where I am in group settings with people I hung out with often B.C. (Before Covid) I feel distant even when I am with them.
How can I laugh and live in the moment around someone when I know they are voting for a candidate who goes against my values and people I love? In some cases, against me. Is it possible for someone to even care about me if they would vote for a politician who would directly take away from my rights?
“I love you,” they say, but then they cast in a vote that says, “I love you, but not enough to put your freedom over finances.”
“I will always support you,” they say, but then in a group setting when someone uses a hateful slur, they remain silent and give me a look — the look — a silent apology for what they know is wrong.
“I love you, but we just have to agree to disagree,” they say as though our differentiating opinions are as nonchalant as opposing football teams.
The entire situation makes me want to scream: to scream at them for siding with hate, but saying it’s love; to scream at an education system that has taught such a narrow way of viewing life so many are unable to put themselves in the shoes of others; and angry at myself for being angry because I know that at my core I am not an angry person.
And so rather than put myself in a place where I no longer feel like myself, I have found myself grounded into a solo routine for the past few months. Yes, this is partly because of the pandemic, but also because the pandemic has shown me the true colors of many.
I have learned it is easy to stand up to strangers you do not know on social media when they post something hateful, but it is another to stand up and hold a friend accountable for the same thing.
What the legacy of COVID will mean I am not sure. I wonder if after this ends life will pop and go back to normal, but I am not sure I would ever want to go back to that place — to a place where ignorance is bliss.
I spent so much of my life around others, always connected, and I have to say I really like being with myself. I once believed isolation and loneliness were interchangeable synonyms, but now I know what both mean.
I am far from lonely,
I’m with myself.