A Loner’s Lockdown

I’m going on a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram lockup which I fear is going to be harder than the infrequent liquor lockups I use to go on when I was a bartender (note to self, get a hold of AOC and compare notes). I’ve been on social media way too much, I’ve posted way too much, and I’ve been commenting on other peoples posts way too much (sorry about that). In a world where people don’t talk but keep up with each other through the less than satisfactory social media platforms, I’ve been doing that like a gambler who keeps playing long after he’s bet his car, his house, and his spouse.  Time for a break.

It comes with risks. I live alone in a place that’s 120 miles from the nearest friend or family member. I’m incarcerated in the alienating architecture of the x-burbs that is so prevalent in car dependent SoCal but can also be found throughout America. Every home is a fort that looks inward. No stoops here. No front porches either. There’s no square, or common, or park where the community shares space. Who needs that when we all have our little patch of dirt hidden securely behind a fence? No one knows their neighbors and no one wants to. That’s rather the point.

My obsessive use of social media is an inadequate attempt to fill the gap where the social interactions that humans are designed for occur. However, without a spouse, or kids, in a place intentionally built to isolate, I mostly find human contact in brief conversations with sales clerks at the drugstore or the supermarket. The lockdown took away those vital, admittedly superficial, interactions. Social media fills that need like meth does for a tweaker. Without it, well, I don’t know.

You might think that having lived like this for the last few years (and on and off for much of my life) I’d be uniquely capable of dealing with the lockdown we’re all going through (unless you’re in the southeast, of course, in which case I recommend you flee now if you can before the rest of us close our borders). I think there’s some truth to that. But for those of you who are on the cusp of murdering your annoying spouse or locking your teenage kid in the basement for the duration, I can’t state too strongly that living like I do is not for most people. It is really hard. It’s not for the weak.

The only interaction with another living thing I seem to have at the moment is a young rat who, despite my attempts to catch and release, keeps coming back, no matter how far I relocate him. The same thing happens with bears. They get in trouble, you remove them to somewhere far away, sometimes a hundred miles, and they still come back. Then, unfortunately, you may have to “remove them from the population” as they say in the park service. To obscure a comparison? I use to be a park ranger.

I have reluctantly gotten to that point with my rat but the problem is he’s too big to catch with a mouse trap and too small to catch with a rat trap. In the meantime I‘ve been calling him “sweetie”. I’m even having conversations with him. He actually hangs out with me, although at a safe distance, or so I fancy. He’s still gotta go, but I kinda like the company. I know, I’m losing it. Besides he can’t cook so, kinda useless. At least I’m not talking to a soccer ball, although I don’t own one so maybe that’s why I haven’t.

So, my virtual friends, lurkers, stalkers, bots, and so forth, I am leaving social media in your VR hands. I’m sure you won’t miss me. You’ll be too busy scrolling the newsfeed to notice. Be safe. Stay healthy. Take care of yourselves. Don’t forget to look up from the screen once in a while.

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