A few weeks ago, the government started a new campaign designed to shame and point fingers at people who disagree with lockdown. Apparently, invading our lives and homes, declaring war on our liberties and turning us against each other wasn’t enough. They’ve now upgraded their strategy to emotional blackmail because fines and treating regular people like criminals and murderers wasn’t enough either. They’ve spread divisive and inappropriate messages on billboards throughout the nation, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. Messages that shame you for valuing your happiness over the health of others. They even dare to shame people for needing to work. Take a look:
In the next few paragraphs, I will attempt to redefine selfishness. I will argue that you and I have every right to be selfish and not want to sacrifice things we value. I will argue that our obligation to other people has a clear beginning and an end, and what has been asked of us this past year is just way above our pay grade.
It is not your duty to make sacrifices for others
Abraham, the Bible tells us, was convinced that he needed to kill his beloved son to prove his loyalty to God. God demanded this sacrifice to see what was more important to Abraham – his son or God. Abraham chose to sacrifice his son. He dragged him to the desert and prepared to stab him to swear his alliance with God. But God only wanted to see if Abraham had it in him to give up his own son, so at the last minute he stopped him and said it was all a test. God demanded his follower to choose between two things he valued the most – his son and God.
Most sacrifices we make don’t involve killing anyone. They involve giving up something important such us time, plans, dreams, health, career, our principles often to gain something of equal or greater importance, but something that does not replace what we are giving up. Making sacrifices for others is a different story and we aren’t always prepared or willing to do it without evaluating the circumstances.
Do you remember the last time you sacrificed something? Did you do it for yourself or for someone else? What was your relationship with that person?
You may have, for example, given up unhealthy food and your social life to get in a better shape. Or you gave up your dream job because it started to consume too much of the time you’d like to spend with your family. Or maybe you agreed to move away from all your family because your husband got a promotion that required relocation and was just too good to reject. Whatever it was, you gave up something you valued at the time for another thing and the two couldn’t coexist. Sacrifice usually carries the burden of discomfort and unease, unlike curtesy.
Can you think of people who, if in need, would deserve a small favour (curtesy) but not sacrifice?
Chances are, you would consider making a sacrifice for a close friend or a family member but not a total stranger or even a colleague. Keep this in mind as you read on, please.
This leads us to obligation, which is defined as an act to which a person is morally or legally bound, a duty or commitment.
In context of sacrifice and courtesy and how they relate to the people you interact with, I hope you can now recognise your commitment to them. Your obligation to others has a more or less defined beginning and an end. That’s why you give a homeless man £2 even though it only pays for a hot drink and doesn’t solve his problems and you don’t invite him to stay with you so he can get his life back together. If, however, a stranger needed an immediate help, say, he collapsed on the street, you would possibly call an ambulance even if it meant you’d miss a train or be late for work.
Having said that, a study has shown that people who are running late are less likely to help someone in that situation than those who have plenty of time to their appointment. The name of the study escapes me now, but in summary, a group of students were sent across the campus for a scheduled appointment. Half of them were told they could take their time and the other half were told they were going to be late unless they hurried. The former group were more likely to stop and assist a collapsed stranger who unbeknownst to them was an actor. The latter group of students were more likely to ignore the stranger even though they had to step over him. This shows that we are willing to break our moral commitment when it clashes with our tight schedule or other obligations.
In contrast, if your sister needed a place to stay for a few weeks, you would possibly offer her to move in with you even if it weren’t ideal for you. You would not simply give her £2 to buy herself a hot drink. This is because you recognise your obligation to others and what level of discomfort you are willing to suffer for them, and that level is dictated by your relationship. You’d also cancel your meetings or even a holiday if your son collapsed on the street and was taken into hospital.
This brings us to selfishness, which is defined as the lack of consideration for others, but why not call it what it really is? It is looking after your own needs because nobody else will. It is the unwillingness to give up what’s important to you for something that’s important to someone else. It is prioritizing your own happiness, goals, health and prosperity over the needs of others.
If you are not selfish, who will look after your needs and wants? Who will make you happy? Who will make your rich if that’s your goal?
If you gave that homeless man £200, sacrificing your rent this month, would he return the favour? Would your landlord understand and tell you not to worry about it? No. Your obligation to yourself and the contract with your landlord override your generosity.
If you sacrifice your time, opportunities, health, relationship or career prospects, personal growth or happiness, who will compensate you for them? Your obligations to others do not have to override your own needs. If you don’t do it for yourself, nobody will.
Hopefully, you can see the relationships formed here. Your obligation to others doesn’t always require a sacrifice and not fulfilling your obligation (if it requires a sacrifice) doesn’t make you selfish (as most people define it).
For example, let’s say your friend asks you to help him build a shed on Sunday, but you are training for a marathon. Sunday is the only day you can run longer distances as part of your training. You have an obligation to help your friend, but his need clashes with yours and requires you to give up something that is important to you. You know that if you agree, your training will suffer a setback you can’t afford. Your friend can’t physically give you back what he is asking you to give up. This is not to say that you should always get the same thing back in return, but when you’re asked to give up something you value, that is impossible to reconstruct or compensate for, you have every right to not want to make that transaction. It is, therefore, not wrong to decline your friend’s request. It’s wrong of him to ask you to forget about your training that day and help him instead.
But how does building sheds, helping a homeless man or your sister relate to coronavirus? I believe that too much has been demanded of us in the past year. We have been asked to give up the very ingredients that make life happy, and month after month more ingredients have been removed turning our once meaningful life into a tasteless existence. Three weeks, they said. We agreed. It was a curtesy, a small favour that has since become a life destroying sacrifice.
I get accused of being selfish a lot when I express my anti – lockdown views. For some reason, strangers on the internet seem to think that calling me selfish ends the argument and declares them the winners. It doesn’t.
The idea of sacrifice and obligation came to me when I walked past a homeless man outside Tesco. ‘Any spare change?’, he asked as I dismissively avoided eye contact and mumbled generic “sorry mate” before he even had a chance to finish his sentence. Then I paused and remembered that I actually had some change from my recent trip to the shop. I gave him £2 – just enough to buy himself a hot drink, which is around 0.2% of my monthly income. If you consider how often I feel generous towards homeless people throughout the year, you’ll see that it becomes even less than that. I spend probably ten times more on energy drinks.
I bet you can relate to that. Both you and I try to justify our unkindness, lack of generosity and our selfishness. How can we be so selfish and not invite this poor man to sleep on our sofa for as long as it takes him to get his life back on track? How can we not offer him our life savings so he can have a fresh start? How can we not even go to the nearest cash machine and take out £200 and give it to him? Are we selfish for not even considering any of it?
Let’s now imagine that our sister calls us late in the evening. She lives miles away and just caught her fiancé cheating. She’s in a café and doesn’t want to go home. She has no friends in the area because they have just moved there for his work. The café closes in 1 hour. It’s cold outside and she doesn’t drive and has no more money. Let’s say you want to help as much as possible. What do you do? Do you pick her up even though you hoped for an early night? Do you send an Uber to pick her up no matter the cost? Do you transfer her money for a hotel room even though you know she shouldn’t be alone, but it makes it easier for you? Or perhaps you transfer her just enough money for her to buy herself a hot drink?
Both, your sister and the homeless man need your help. They both have nowhere to stay. Their problems will not be solved with a hot drink. Why is it not acceptable to just transfer your sister £10 so she can get one, hang up the phone and go to sleep, but it is acceptable to walk past a homeless man and, more often than not, give him nothing at all? We all know the answer – we just don’t care about him that much. We are willing to give things up for those we do care about, but we are not willing to make the same sacrifices for a total stranger, even a homeless man who we know is suffering. He is right in front of us – miserable, hungry and cold, embarrassed, unseen and ignored by everyone. But, giving him £200 would cause us too much discomfort – even if we knew he wouldn’t spend it all on sweets. We can’t. We want to help him, but we don’t want to suffer ourselves. We don’t want to invite him to sleep on our sofa because it’s risky, it’s uncomfortable and feels wrong. We don’t want our efforts to cause any inconvenience to us. That is why we give him whatever change we have available, but usually we don’t even acknowledge him at all. We don’t owe him anything. He is not our responsibility.
It’s not because we are “selfish”. It is because we know where our obligations to others begin and where they end. We have our hierarchy composed of our family at the top, our friends below them, colleagues, and strangers. Strangers are then divided into subgroups of those who need immediate help, such us emergencies, and strangers experiencing regular difficulties which don’t require our help or consideration. Based on that hierarchy, we know our obligations to others. They then dictate the level of discomfort we’re willing to suffer for the people we cross paths with. We will suffer the most inconvenience for those we love, especially close family. Caring for those we love, especially our blood relatives is hardwired in our genes. It is the subconscious need to ensure survival of our bloodline. That’s why, as harsh and as heartless as it might sound, children are more valuable than the elderly. That’s why women and children were the first to be rescued from the Titanic. The year 2020 showed us that people are willing to pretend this isn’t so, that we can trick our intuition, instincts and nature and sacrifice the young to save the elderly.
When it comes to friends and strangers, there is a different mechanism at work. If you have kids, you know what lengths a parent can go to provide for their family. For example, a father might work long hours at a job he hates to provide a better life for his family. The wellbeing of his kids is more important to him than career fulfilment.
We already know that we protect our children and make sacrifices for them because we want them to survive and live a good life. We don’t expect anything in return. What we have with our friends is the unwritten contract of never-ending exchange of favours of similar value. For example, if you borrow money from your friend, you should be prepared to lend him a similar amount at some point in the future or give him another favour – as long as his needs don’t clash with yours. Helping friends is, therefore, more of an investment than sacrifice.
Strangers are part of the collective entity. We are all connected through transactions and unwritten rules of manners. We are only willing to do as much as it takes to stay out of trouble. So, we hold the door for the person behind us, we queue up in Tesco, and we respect people’s privacy, their rights, space and property. Anything extra is uncomfortable and inconvenient. We will call the police if we witness a crime, but we will not take it upon ourselves to fight crime by becoming a masked vigilante. Similarly, we will avoid littering, but we will not put rubber gloves on and go litter picking. Is it wrong of us to not want to do it? Of course not. We fulfil our contract with society with effortless deeds, but litter picking and war on crime interfere with our life, even if all we want to do is binge watch Breaking Bad. Average person avoids inconvenience and discomfort and does the minimum if it happens to be just enough for “the collective”.
The truth is, most people, myself included, won’t donate as little as 0.2% of our monthly income to save starving children in Africa, but as soon as too many old people die too close to home, we crush the entire economy and shame everyone who isn’t on board with that. The difference between me and most people is that, I don’t go around tapping myself on the back for staying home and pretend this makes me a good personLukasz Kwiatkowski
The Side Effects of lockdown
But in the past ten months we have suffered more than a simple inconvenience. Three weeks to flatten the curve – that was inconvenient, but manageable. Ten months of financial and emotional rollercoaster that has resulted and will continue to result in unemployment and suicides – that’s a big sacrifice. So, I am here to argue that yes – wanting one’s life back is selfish, but there is nothing wrong with it. I am here to argue that what has been asked of us was never our obligation or responsibility and that our very lives have been sacrificed against our will to prevent potential COVID19 deaths and protect the NHS. I strongly believe that neither of these is worth the price and I am angry that I have to keep paying it.
Back in March 2020, we were persuaded that a three – week lockdown was needed to achieve both of these goals. Most people were by then convinced that it was necessary. Then that three – week lockdown was extended again and again and never really ended. I work as a Fitness Instructor and gyms didn’t open until late July, which means I was out of work for over four months. With a baby on the way, trying to find a bigger place it wasn’t ideal because nobody wanted to rent to us, and being furloughed made it impossible to save any money. My resentment towards the government grew and I simply could not find myself agreeing with the intrusive restrictions implemented by them. I talk about it more in The Dark Side of The Greater Good – Deserts of Mars (thedesertsofmars.com), where I explain the roots of my noncompliance and anger.
The trolley dilemma is a decades old philosophical thought experiment first put forward by the British philosopher, Phillipa Foot. It has since taken many forms, but the idea remains the same since the late 1960s. As summarised by Thoughtco.com:
A tram is running down a track and is out control. If it continues on its course unchecked and undiverted, it will run over five people who have been tied to the tracks. You have the chance to divert it onto another track simply by pulling a lever. If you do this, though, the tram will kill a man who happens to be standing on this other track. What should you do?
Most people, of course, pull the lever and kill one person to save five. Today, however, we are all taking part in this experiment and we are all tied to the tracks. The government pull the lever to kill five people through destruction of our businesses, medical neglect, isolation and promoting unhealthy lifestyle. The five sacrifices represent all the lives that will be lost in the coming months and years BECAUSE of lockdown. We want to live, but we are tied up. We call for help and scream that we don’t want to die, but in response, the lever pulling government, media and the public tell us to be quiet and watch Netflix.
When the first lockdown ended, many restrictions remained. There was no real resistance to it then, either. Protests only started gaining pace and attention late Summer when people got fed up with the government’s boot on their faces. Then another pointless lockdown came. It was supposed to save Christmas, but instead angered more people and did not save Christmas or lives. We’ve made a full circle and are back where we started – another pointless, life destroying lockdown.
We’ve been kept hostage by our government for the better part of the last twelve months. I have only been allowed to work for six of them. That’s six months I have been unable to be financially independent and fulfil my OBLIGATION to my FAMILY. Six months I’ve been forced to rely on the state. And you know what? They aren’t paying me enough to continue taking this shit. Still, I am one of the lucky ones. I know some people who, for the most part, have had no help and in the end lost most of their clients.
People love to pretend that we’re just asked to sit at home and watch Netflix. They often dismiss our anxiety, rebellion or worries by bringing up the Blitz and how back then people just did the right thing. But I am pretty sure when bombs explode all around you, nobody needs to tell you what the right thing is. But people didn’t sleep on the platforms of the London Underground to protect the elderly or save the NHS. They did it for themselves. Not the same crisis at all.
People also love to dismiss us by pretending we are just frustrated about the mandatory face coverings, but that’s not true. They call us anti this and anti that, COVID deniers and conspiracy theorists. All so they never have to relate to our concerns, engage with us on the human level and understand our pain. The very real and obvious side effects of lockdown never get addressed by those who support it. They almost always go straight to calling people selfish, accusing them of murdering grannies by intentionally spreading the virus, and they dare to tell us that we don’t care about the people who are dying.
I believe that ALL of the measures and restrictions we’ve been burdened with destroy our lives and compromise our physical health and mental wellbeing, while promising to do very little in return. Everything we’ve done and given up to protect “the vulnerable” puts US in a vulnerable position to many other threats. And even though I disagree with them, for the most part I have no choice but to exist within these restrictions and rules.
Lockdown, with all its sinister and intrusive measures, is a controlled demolition of our lives, liberties and livelihoods. When the dust settles and bodies are bagged, what will emerge in our place? Our lives, our marriages and relationships, our health and fitness will be just the shadows of what they used to be.
One of the most obvious side effects is the neglect of thousands of cancer patients. Many of them, including those simply concerned about suspicious and sudden headaches or lumps on their bodies, just didn’t want to trouble the doctors during the pandemic. Others, especially those at risk of suffering from coronavirus, didn’t want to be anywhere near the hospitals. Those delays and cancellations will have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. The lever has been pulled, declaring their lives unimportant.
Why shouldn’t those cancer patients who have been denied the lifesaving treatment be selfish? Is it wrong to value your own life and health over that of others? Is it your obligation to make that sacrifice?
Whenever there is an anti – lockdown protest, the mainstream media outlets release condescending articles, helping regular people completely dismiss people’s individual reasons for protesting. All so they don’t have to relate to their pain, anger and humanity and to avoid the uncomfortable conversations within themselves. People in Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Poland, Australia and many other countries have taken to the streets and demanded their lives back. Each time these people gathered, they were more desperate, angry and upset. Why? They are business owners who have lost everything they worked for their entire lives. They are fathers who haven’t seen their kids for months. They are people whose parents have been sentenced to death in a lonely room of a care home. They are young men and women whose education has been put on hold and future destroyed. They are boyfriends and girlfriends who haven’t been able to see each other without feeling like Bonnie and Clyde. They are people who have lost friends and family to suicide and cancer. They are working people whose jobs, professions or entire industries may never reopen and return. Yet again, the lever has been pulled, declaring them unimportant.
Is it wrong of them to fight for things they value? Things that, without their consent, have been sacrificed?
Some of these men and women don’t mind wearing a mask. Some are in the risk group themselves. They just want to see their family. They accept the risk. They want to go back to work and give their life meaning and purpose again. Some don’t mind taking the vaccine when it’s their turn, but they also want to enjoy retirement by living like every day may be their last. Sure, some people believe the world is flat, the queen is a lizard, but also want to live in a country where police won’t chase them out of the park for having a picnic. The anti – lockdown crowd, whether gathered in Hyde Park or on Twitter, is very diverse, indeed. We all have our reasons to be here and all those reasons are valid, and the only way to preserve them is through selfishness. After lockdown has claimed everything we love and treasure, our lives will not be returned to us in the same condition as they were taken. Our jobs will be gone, relationships will be over, savings spent, children anti – social, fat and lazy. Who will reverse that?
Selfishness IS required. It IS essential. None of those people calling us COVIDIOTS will be there when you’ve lost everything. None of them will pause and reflect on the reasons for your misery and misfortune. As soon as they are allowed, they will be travelling to Dubai pretending they are someone they’re not.
Gyms are closed. People aren’t moving as much as they used to. Our bodies are made to move, to work – not to sit down the entire day. People will get fat and unhealthy which will put them in a COVID risk group and lead to other life-threatening conditions. Not to mention chronic pain that will result from almost an entire year of being largely inactive. Our options to maintain physical health are limited. With outdoor gyms closed off, it seems like the only legal types of exercise are running and walking – none of which will make up for our new inactive lifestyle that’s been forced upon us.
Most people will simply lack motivation to do any type of exercise right now. They will lack knowledge and experience to make their exercise intense enough to make up for sitting the rest of the day. They will not be spending money on running gear or weights to use at home (if they are lucky to have enough space). Most people will not invest in these because they simply don’t care enough. Not to mention that right now, as in previous lockdowns, fitness equipment is mostly sold out or hugely overpriced because of such big demand. Everyone will just collapse into their sofas doing what they are told and paid to do – getting more unhealthy, more unfit, more miserable, unhappy with themselves, or as some put it – sitting at home and watching Netflix. The lever has been pulled again.
As a Fitness Instructor and a former fat guy, I know that getting fit is much more than just deciding to do it. A person has to find motivation, have a goal in mind that often is accompanied by a deadline in the form of a life event such as a wedding. But most of all, he or she needs to ENJOY the exercise. Gym provides that variety allowing trainees to pursue their goals without sticking to one boring exercise or routine.
What about people who don’t want to end up obese, who want to maintain their healthy lifestyle, but can’t adapt because they lack motivation or purpose? Is it wrong of them to demand that gyms reopen? That lives resume? A few months ago, an elderly lady, Ann, came to the gym asking me to show her our treadmills. She was in her 70s, overweight and asthmatic. She said she hated walking outdoors, but she needed to exercise after shielding for several months and didn’t mind using the treadmill. What if she doesn’t find the motivation to adapt to the current circumstances and instead gives up on exercise all together putting herself at an even greater risk?
Right now, people like Ann don’t even have the right to look after their own health and boost their immune system. Ann realises that staying home “might” save her from coronavirus but walking on the treadmill will save her from heart disease and other serious threats. She took responsibility because she knew that nobody else could get on that treadmill for her. I applaud people like Ann. Unfortunately, she has been sacrificed. The lever was pulled once again, declaring Ann unimportant and her needs nonessential.
Nobody will reverse what’s been done to your mental health because of lockdown. Nobody will pay your debt or reconstruct your business, save your marriage and turn back time so you don’t have that abortion you had because you were worried about the future. Nobody will buy you more time when you are given six months to live because your cancer was discovered too late. Nobody will resurrect you when you’ve taken your own life because you’ve lost everything. None of these people who dismiss you as a selfish COVIDIOT will be there when you fall. None of them. They do, however, demand that you give all that up, sacrifice your own happiness, stability and health to protect others yet nobody is willing to protect you from the misery caused by your sacrifice. They don’t think it’s their responsibility, but demand that you take responsibility for them.
My theory is that this lust for lockdowns is based on the short sighted imagination of lockdown supporters and our ancient instinct to prioritise immediate rewards and avoid immediate threats. This primitive voice dictates to people that, sure, lockdowns will cause hundreds of thousands of cancer deaths, but they won’t be immediate and will be spread out over a longer period of time. Same with suicides caused by unemployment and loneliness. Same with obesity which can take months to become a problem and years to contribute to poor health. It doesn’t make it less heartless, to use one of their words, to sacrifice these people to save, or to postpone a few deaths today. It doesn’t make it less selfish, to betray the people who will die in a year from now to save a few lives today. It is, however, part of the human nature. This is why many people struggle to save money and instead buy things they want on credit even if it costs them more in the long term. But, just because this is in our nature, doesn’t mean we can’t be aware of it and make conscious decisions even if our subconsciousness disagrees.
For the lockdown strategy to be considered successful nobody’s health, happiness, freedom and wellbeing should be neglected. No lever should ever be pulled if it resulted in sacrificing some lives to save others. Especially when the measures imposed on us restrict our access to healthcare, to prosperity, happiness, privacy, family and love life, the right to form relationships and fall in love, start a family and enjoy a free and uninterrupted life. Lockdown does not meet any of this criteria and fails to deliver its promise of slowing the spread of coronavirus.
The common criticism of that approach is the “you don’t have the right to infect others with the virus” argument. People seem to have forgotten that their health is their responsibility, not others. They have forgotten that we CATCH viruses, not spread them. Yes, viruses spread through us, but there is very little we can do to stop that unless we are prepared to spend the rest of our lives living like prisoners, and even then there would be no light at the end of the tunnel for people with underlying health conditions and weakened immune system. The reality is, a virus may travel through ten different hosts before it reaches a vulnerable person, so it should always be her and her immediate family’s job to take responsible measures to “stay safe” not only now, but during every flu season. The question, however, is, what of that granny who thinks meeting her new born grandchild is worth it even if it exposes her to the threat of COVID19? If she doesn’t want to be safe, but instead happy for her remaining time on earth, no amount of self sacrifice I do will save her life and in the end, I will be the one who suffers. This is why it makes perfect sense for people to voluntarily protect themselves instead of everyone being forced to protect others through harsh and often irreversible self sacrifice.
The bottom line is this. If you support further lockdown, isolation and assault of our freedoms, you’re contributing to more death and misery than you pretend you’re preventing. Others like me recognise the long-term side effects of these restrictions. We know that we are the only ones responsible for our own wellbeing. We understand that we are the only ones who can defend ourselves against illness and physical and mental threats, but in the last ten months, we have been told to give up our guns. You think that the health of your loved ones depends on restrictions imposed on others. Restrictions that take their ability to maintain good physical and mental health. This is where you and I disagree. I know I am responsible for myself, but right now everything that gives me strength has been taken away from me because you think I should be responsible for you.
So, tell me, friend, when me and my family end up on the street because of lockdown, will you acknowledge us at all? Will you give up your job, your savings or your salary for us? Tell me, will you save us, or will you give us enough to buy a hot drink?
- Lockdowns Do Not Control the Coronavirus: The Evidence – AIER
- Every month delayed in cancer treatment can raise risk of death by around 10% | LSHTM
- The Impact of COVID‐19 Stay‐At‐Home Orders on Health Behaviors in Adults (wiley.com)
- Suicide – Lockdown Resistance (endlockdowns.org)
- Trolley Dilemma: Kill One Person to Save Five? (thoughtco.com)
Do you ever text your friend and suggest you should get together and they say “Yeah, when things go back to normal, we should go to the pub or something!”? Do you ever scroll through your social media feed and see people making holiday plans for when things go back to normal? Do you ever visit dating sites and see people looking to date after the lockdown? I bet you have come across at least one of these people. Or maybe you are one yourself. Making plans for when we are given thumbs up to get on with our lives. What if planning and arranging your life from now on will never be the same? What if things don’t go back to normal? What if lockdown ending is not what we should be anticipating but what comes after?
Are we in control? Are we truly in control of our lives? Are we the authors of our story or are we just narrating it? Are we making the decisions or are we just choosing between the options provided for us? Maybe we are all enslaved by the algorithm that advertises careers, products, lifestyle choices and romantic partners to us and we stick to choosing between the options provided. The endless chain of choices creates the illusion of freedom while be become dependent on the state or corporations to give us what we think we want and need.
We never needed Netflix. Nobody needs Netflix. Think about it. I am sure a lot of you can relate. You want to watch a movie but now you are bombarded with choices and none of them seem to scratch that itch. You scroll through recently added and the most popular. Then you move on to comedies and then maybe you check another category only to find nothing. You’ve just spent twenty minutes deciding or rather choosing between the options provided by somebody else. More often than not, it’s too late now, you have to be up early and if you started watching something now, you’d not get enough sleep. Sometimes you might settle for something just for the sake of it. Either way, your time has been wasted and you are not satisfied. Do you think people who run Netflix, waste their time on watching movies or lose sleep to watch entire series overnight? Isn’t it ironic that the more options you have, the less happy you become? The options are almost limitless. You know you can watch a certain movie any time and unlimited number of times and yet for this very reason you are restricted. Back in the day, when I was younger, we were restricted by the number of options. We had to go to the video store and rent VHS tapes. We had less options but enjoyed more freedom. More isn’t necessarily better.
But I digress.
Do you think fast food chains are ran by unhealthy and obese CEOs or that cigarette manufacturers by heavy smokers who are on the brick of getting lung cancer? No. For the same reason why a drug dealer is not a junkie himself. They want you to buy and use their product. Time, money and health are their resources and they won’t waste them like they want you to. They need you to rely on them while their mind is clear and they continue to make money because you are willing to waste your resources – money, time and health on useless subscriptions, alcohol, cigarettes, unhealthy food, drugs, trainers and expensive clothes. You submit to their rules. They don’t live by them. I’m not saying they are all evil. I am saying that a CEO or a founder of a clothing company, doesn’t spend countless hours walking around shopping for trainers and jeans. Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t spend his days scrolling through Instagram seeing what other people are doing with their life. He has a whole team of spies to do it for him. But seriously, these people spend every waking hour trying to improve their product, their company, their life and to find ways to make more money off you. In a way they don’t care that you are wasting your money on their products or life on their platforms. Just know that they don’t. They think of more ways to get to you. To get to know you. To advertise to you. They live by different rules. They’ve earned it or sold their souls to the Devil to get there. You choose.
We have seen the proof with our own eyes as soon as shops re – opened. People queuing to buy, to browse, to consume to enslave themselves and submit to the will of the elite. This is what we have become. Defeated and braindead. Crawling through the High Street abandoning our purpose in life for a new pair of Nikes believing they will help us walk into happiness. They don’t realize that happiness is going to pass them by as they are distracted and seduced by a temporary fix. They are even willing to accept the New Normal and sacrifice their sanity by waiting for the security guy to let them in. Public toilets are now guarded too. Can’t have too many people using the facilities now, can we? The town is full of arrows and footprints that must be followed and there are people in uniforms enforcing the one-way pedestrian system which drives me mad. Police walk around enforcing it too and making sure people don’t gather in groups while shopping. I could not go through it just to get a new pair of jeans.
But the New Normal has arrived. It seems to be here to stay. Don’t make the mistake of assuming this New Reality is everyone’s reality. No. Just like the founders of Netflix don’t waste time endlessly browsing through it, the people who introduce this reality are not the ones who will live in it. Your politicians don’t go shopping. They have assistants doing it for them. I know someone who does it for a living. She works as a personal assistant of a wealthy family and up until recently she worked for an Arsenal player. She does the bills, food shopping, walking the dog and everything else in between that distracts the rich and successful from making money. Nothing wrong with that but just remember, they live in a different world and pay others to do the dirty work in the real world while they focus on their careers and expanding their wealth.
Politicians are no different. They are creating a world for us, not themselves. People think things are going back to normal, but they are not. Try going to your favourite pub when it opens. Try to get a haircut on the 4th July. Try to have a wedding or arrange a funeral. Everything that you used to take for granted is gone or changed forever. Modified to fit the New Reality. The reality of the common man and woman. While we adapt to the world with no handshakes, no affection, no singing at weddings, no socialising in pubs, the life of the elites will, for the most part, remain the same. Like I said earlier with Mark Zuckerberg. He doesn’t check his phone all the time for a new Facebook comment, Instagram like or Whatsapp message. He cares that you do. He is in business of making you waste your time seeking approval of others on his platforms. And while the world changes before your eyes, the rich, powerful and famous people will carry on as normal. Some of them might have spent the last few months on a yacht surrounded by supermodels and don’t even know that 99.99% of the world population were absolutely not affected by some Chinese virus.
I was just reminded of Dark City, a great movie I recommend everyone to watch. It tells a story of a man who finds himself in a city ran by powerful entities who rearrange the city and the lives of its citizens when they sleep. Every morning they wake up not remembering who they were the day before. They have a new family, new house, new job and don’t even know it. He discovers the truth. The entities he is up against create new reality every night. New rules that don’t affect them in any way. They execute their plan and the people of the dark city are just subjects of their experiment. Have we just woken up in The Dark City? Some of us act like we barely remember our life before the quarantine. Others act like they never want things to go back to the way they were. Yet others live in denial and think this is still only temporary. A handful of us are awake and try to take on the powerful entities who are ruling over us and are rearranging our lives with an illusion of our consent.
On the bright side though…
Football is back, isn’t it? The excitement and passion are back… well, not quite. You can’t go to a match. Are you ever going to be able to? At least the way it was before? Shoulder to shoulder with the fans of your team. Jumping, singing and celebrating together? Are you ever going to be able to go to a game without being treated like a big bag of germs? Probably not. So, this aspect of your life is gone. Sure, you might try it for a while but eventually you will get sick of it. Just like we all are of queuing everywhere and being reminded that we are all murderers if we don’t wash out hands or cover our face with a mask or a cloth (they both seem to be equally useless but while they cover your mouth, they signal your virtue). While your employment is still a big question mark, football players are back to work. Kicking the ball and getting paid millions. Not much has changed for them then. Empty stadiums are nothing new in football either. But even when fans are allowed back in (in reduced numbers to observe social distancing), most players will not notice the number of supporters and they probably won’t care what you had to go through to get to your seat. They play, you watch. They don’t queue. They play while their assistants are queuing for their groceries and after the game you will have to queue for yours.
Movie production is probably going to resume soon too. Do you think we will see the new normal there? I doubt it. Movies will remain normal and will ask for your money and won’t care how dreadful your trip to the cinema is. I realized this when I watched Dave Chapelle’s most recent stand up. It was filmed a few weeks ago in America. It was outside. He was on stage, doing exactly what he did before. The audience’s experience was different. The seats were spread. I assume they could only sit together if they arrived together and they all wore face masks. Not just any face masks. They had Chapelle logo on them but that’s beside the point. I think Dave Chapelle is a great comedian and this has nothing to do with him. The point I’m trying to make is that stand ups, musicians and other live performers will at some point resume their lives. The key word is resume because they won’t be affected by the new normal. Not that much anyway. For the past few months, they have been in their mansions with their lives paused. They’ve earned it so I’m not having a go at them. What I am saying is that soon they will all be back performing while who knows what their audience have to go through to see their shows.
The movie industry will return in the new normal too. Are we going to see social distanced Hollywood productions? Or will the movies look like nothing ever happened? While you and I walk around our High Street following arrows and avoiding eye contact with strangers, avoiding conversation and touch with them as they are all potential asymptomatic murderers spreading the deadly disease with their breath, cough and hands, the movies will continue as if there is no pandemic. The fantasy world will be here to entertain you while you live in this nightmare and walk through a maze everywhere you go. Their convincing trailers with explosions, car chases will trigger emotions in you and Hollywood stars will invite you to go to the cinema and contribute to their lavish lifestyles while your life is a living hell and you a ticking time bomb. You will pay the same price or more for your ticket as you did before you even knew you could put “social” and “distancing” together and it would make sense. In other words, your cinema experience will not be the same. You will queue, walk through a maze, queue to go to the toilet (if going to the toilet will be at all possible during a movie, given you will have to be in a close proximity with other germ carriers when leaving your seat). Saying that, going to the toilet during the show might actually be banned. What about leaving the room after the movie? Will you be able to just walk out or will everyone have to walk out in some kind of sequence. What if you have an emergency and you have to leave halfway through? Can you see what I mean? Your experience will be sabotaged while the whole movie crew gets paid and carries on as normal. They won’t care how you get to the cinema and what your experience is like. As long as you tap your card and buy that ticket. Somehow, I can’t see cinemas lowering the prices because of your inconveniences.
When things go back to normal…. What? Like going to the pub and not being able to interact with strangers? Like going to the pub and not being able to stand at the bar? Like waiting for an appointment with your hairdresser only to find out they aren’t allowed to talk to “control the virus”? Like not being able to sing at weddings or fathers being banned from walking the brides to the altar? Like having to follow arrows anywhere and being followed by people with job titles that didn’t exist a month ago? You know, those who enforce the social distancing and one-way walking system? Do you think it’s going away? When? When we’ve flattened the curve? When we’ve saved the NHS? When we’ve made sure there is not a single patient at any hospital? When we’ve protected every single elderly from dying?
I know what you’re thinking. “No singing at the weddings? Nobody is going to follow that!”, or “No small talk with your hairdresser? I’d like to see them enforce that!”. Of course, nobody will follow these stupid rules. The point is, we shouldn’t have to be intimidated into thinking that singing at a wedding is against the rules, but we will do it anyway. We shouldn’t have to question the morality of it and fear that the antiterrorists will crash our wedding or that the Thought Police will arrest you and your barber halfway through the haircut because he or she asked you if you have any holiday planned. We shouldn’t have to sneak out. So, the point isn’t breaking the rules. The point is these rules being there in the first place and the only way to have some kind of normality is breaking. Rules which again, will not apply to those making them. And in case you aren’t aware of what The New Normal has in store for us, then all of the above paragraph are genuine headlines I’ve seen in recent weeks leading up to July 4th. Another one that caught my attention read Experts say women should cut their hair short to prevent the spread of COVID19. If you’ve ever shamed anyone for not wearing a mask or not social distancing, then I wonder if you would cut your hair short or advise women in your life to do so – for humanity’s sake.
The media is trying to convince us that The New Normal is inevitable and we need to adapt. But you know what? I think the New Normal is faulty and I’d like to see the manager!
Mike Tyson is planning his return to the ring too. How exciting! He will make his millions along with organizers and promoters no matter how you experience his return. While you have to social distance yourself from everyone you love, boxers and other contact sport athletes will continue exchanging punches, sweat and blood. This kind of reminds me of The Hunger Games. Regular people lived in awful conditions while the elite enjoyed the luxuries of The Capital. This is the difference between us and the elite – the celebrities, politicians and billionaires. All of them like to tell us how we should live, they make rules and virtue signal all the time, desperately trying to stay relevant and say the right thing. All from the comfort from their mansions guarded by armed security while we have to live under the regime of their false virtue. In the movie, the difference between us and them was extreme. The Capital was glamourous while the districts were filled with hunger and poverty. Back in the real world The Capital is not a physical place. It’s a state of mind combined of the number of social media followers and big bank account status, power and influence. We, living in the District, are the consumers of their existence, subjects of their power and influence. They do not live in the world they are building for us. We have seen this during Black Lives Matter riots. Number of celebrities bailed out the looters and rioters when they got arrested and many Instagram personalities voiced their support of burning buildings, destroying livelihoods and communities in the name of BLM. It’s all fun and games when it is not your house that’s on fire. It’s all fun and games when you’re rich and famous and live hundreds of miles away. These people don’t have to live with consequences of their words and actions.
Politicians are no different. Do you really think they care if social distancing is doing more harm than good in the long run? Their kids go to private school.
When things go back to normal you will have all the fun in the world, won’t you? You will get your life back. You will get that body of your dreams. You will go for that career you’ve been dreaming about. Unless you live in Leicester. You will have to wait a few more weeks. See, the lockdown is never going to finish. It is no longer about “flattening the curve”. Now whenever the government decide, they can put a single city on a lockdown and then all your plans and dreams have to be put on hold as well. If you have a business, you will have to close again. Maybe for good this time. If you are self – employed, then you may need to consider applying for a permanent job at Tesco. In Melbourne, an entire building block has been put on a local lockdown or a house arrest. Can you see it? This is not going away.
You can forget about being spontaneous. More and more gyms and pubs are introducing booking systems which means you won’t just be able to walk into a pub or gym whenever you feel like it. You will have to book your slot and I bet that won’t be easy.
Let me leave you with this final thought.
Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be constantly told he wouldn’t be successful in Hollywood because of his accent and his size. He was told they were his disadvantages. He used them to his advantage and his accent gave us the Terminator. He also took English lessons, speech lessons, accent removal lessons and even lost some muscle mass for one of his early roles in a record time. He took control of what he could. I know. He was up against his own accent and muscles, not against billionaire elites who use their resources to put you in a Skinner box and control your behaviour. I know it’s hard to be optimistic if you don’t have a safety net, if you live alone and have bills, rent, mortgage and other things to pay. I know but maybe we can all come out of this lockdown better than when we were dragged into it. It’s not too late to give up a bad habit, start reading or listening to audiobooks, listening to podcasts, find an online course and get qualified. It may feel like we have lost control. It may feel like we never had it, but there are still aspects of our lives which we CAN control. We can control what we learn. If you don’t want to wait for your country to turn into China, learn a language and a skill that will let you live somewhere else. Let’s not wait for them to do it to us. They are all just people who’ve read books. One thing I’m going to research when I finish this post, is what part of the economy, what jobs are likely to never return or change forever in the coming months or years. I work in the fitness industry but if there is good reason to believe this sector will suffer, then I’d like to be ahead and prepare myself. I am not suggesting joining them if we can’t beat them. I am saying we should take control of what we can and continue to fight for what we believe. The New Normal is here, we need to resist and push back against it as hard as it pushes against us. Defeat is not an option, but it is a possibility we should be prepared for.
What do you think? Tell me how you are coping with the new normal. Do you need someone to talk to? You are not alone. Get in touch