The Sunny Side of a Pandemic

Come together, positively.
By Morgan Meier.

Having filed, catalogued and shredded any hesitations of continuously referencing the pandemic. For it is our life. A persistent and unavoidable truth, instead let us lean into it. 

In tribute to the simpler times - Ellie, Bobster, Kit Kat and Hendo meet up. They are not walking, not drinking coffee, nor are they sitting on a park bench. They are in a room together and they are just hanging out.

'The Final Frontier: Hanging out 2021'
Bobster, Kit Kat, Hendo, Ellie.
Visual by Berryn Russo

There is a sense, that the average schmuck, is where possible, making this pandemic work in their favour. Despite the gnawing feeling that we are on the scenic route to hell, the necessity to find silver linings remains.

Let us build a makeshift bridge to a sunnier side of the pandemic, thanks to some boots on the ground journalism (Instagram).

I asked people on the internet, majority in lockdown - “In the last two years, how have you made the pandemic work for you?”.

Positive messaging is prevalent, paste ups on the street telling us 'WE GOT THIS', 'STAY OPTIMISTIC' and ‘BE AWESOME’. What I really want to know, is how the people are someday, somehow, triumphing in the current conditions.

But first let’s talk Ellie, Kit Kat, Bobster and Hendo’s meet up. These days, the lockdown daze, most of our meet ups are based around an activity that requires motion, which can be a deterrent. Being the winter months in the Southern Hemisphere, weather may also play a key role in the lockdown meet up. 'Hanging out' has changed significantly; nearly extinct for a large proportion of last year. This year, not in existence long enough to breed.

Still I am hellbent on being positive, stay with me. My Mother always a relentlessly positive person. My Father's penchant for negativity under the paper thin veil “I’m a realist”. When asked to participate and share his silver lining of the pandemic, his response was less than moving - “I have been cooped up and have had no advantages.”

In the pandemic 'toxic positivity' seems to have finally been unmasked, revealing an annoying resting bitch face. But this is not fake! This is real! This is a well lit street, good for walking. Back to my field work -- Instagram. The people are swiping beers walking out the door on a Friday evening, metaphorically.

How are people making the pandemic work in their favour? A scenario of comparison may be when people have children, they start to use them as scapegoats, exit routes. Now children are very difficult and extremely labour intensive, there is absolutely no shame in making them work for you. Want to leave a boring dinner early? Don’t want to go to your co-workers birthday? The kids, those little guys, THE CHILDREN - they are the reason and they are the answer.

The pandemic is the child for the childless, the introverted, and the downright disengaged. 

The responses revealed much of what we already know or would assume about people’s modes of dealing with the pandemic. I say dealing, to avoid coping because coping is so condescending. Don’t cope, just do whatever you want. It’s fine. 

Some have gone to find God, “Hillsong and the Bible”. Letting the lord be their saviour, Jesus is not in a hurry to get here, it seems. Many are getting high, safely. With nowhere to go there is nowhere to be, driving under the influence is futile. Now if I didn't know any better, I'd call that a bright side? Some productive people [over achievers?] continue to build out side businesses, personal projects, and on the clock of their 9-5 jobs. Now this puts a twinkle in my eye.

While we are all collectively losers in this global pandemic, there are two irrefutable winners — the introverted and the slackers. These are people who just want to be left the fuck alone. They are using their masks as shields from social obligations, the virus of small talk. The slackers, or opportunists we shall call them (positivity!), the people working hard to do the absolute bare minimum.

I will not delay the voices of the people any further. 

"How have you made the pandemic work for you in the past two years?"

File under: Social but not by design —
-Be the true hermit I’ve always wanted to be.” 
- “Socially acceptably getting into bed at 8:15pm with my electric blanket.”
- “Kicking back with feet up, watching events get cancelled that never I wanted to attend.”
- “Hiding behind my mask when I see people in the street I don’t wanna say hi to”

File under: Does anybody work here? —
- “Taking so many breaks at work! Heaven.”
- “I take advantage of working from home every single day. Some days I don’t work at all.”
- “I worked on side hustle writing during work hours - articles, copywriting, client work, website, research etc. So yeah, a lot of work slacking.”

File under: I’m a slob and/or sexual deviant and I am released —
- “Didn't have to wear a bra, makeup or proper binding clothing”
- “Lunch time wanks.”
- “Weed.”
- “Weed. Don’t have to drive, won’t get pulled over by cops, tested and deported.”
- “Weed.”
- “Let my lazy side come out to bask in zero plans” 

File under: My parents were too busy, and now I am a persistent over-achiever —
- “Work, work, work, work.”
- “I have doubled my personal business in the last two years.”

File under: I am the new barefoot Investor —
- Saving without excuse e.g going out and spending, less spending on clothes etc. too if I can’t leave home. 
- “Early super. More babies. Lunchtime wine. 24/7 YOLO.”
- “Spent less money doing fun shit.”

File under: “I’m a realist” AKA I got nothing — 
- "I have been cooped up and have had no advantages”
- “Hillsong and the Bible.” 

File under: Hanging by a thread —
- “Making sure I keep up my daily rituals.”
- “Seeing my Mum, sorry not COVID safe!”
- “It’s the perfect excuse to eat pastries daily with no judgement.”

File under: Inside the minds of actual healthy adults - 
- “Working out exactly the people I enjoy sharing food and drinks with.”
- “Enjoyed less FOMO which I would've felt with a little toddler (lockdown life and early parenthood are kinda similar)”
- “Cooked meals and did chores during work hours”
- “Let provisional friendships die a mutually beneficial death”
- “I’d say I became more of an open book. And vulnerability wins sometimes. I used my vulnerability to work me into more and better things, positions, conversations, connections. etc.” 
- I’d say work and using it to connect with people at work if otherwise not had the opportunity.