2020 was a challenging year. I found myself in a lapse of time where every day felt like a month and every month felt like a year. It was hard at first, but eventually, I became numb to it.
The emotional and mental distance that I experienced was the worst part, and I know I was not alone when it came to this sentiment. The loneliness we’ve all felt might have been just as bad, or worse, than the disease itself. Rates of loneliness, depression, substance abuse, and suicide have all risen nationally under the COVID-19 lockdowns. And it’s a tragedy that more people don’t push themselves to say “enough is enough.”
In exchange for our adherence to nearly a year’s worth of ineffective COVID restrictions, we’ve been encouraged to enjoy virtual time together. Such encouragements fail to recognize that computer screens will never truly replicate the substance of spending time together in-person. We’re lying to ourselves if we think it does. Technology helps, but the deaths caused by loneliness illustrate that screens are not going to remedy the despair caused by physical isolation.
Of course, I’ve heard the argument that this is for “the greater good.” However, sacrificing one facet (or more) of our health in order to fix another doesn’t make much sense, especially when the act of surrendering our physical connection is also a sacrifice of our limited time together.
After all, we will never get 2020 back. For those of us who effectively isolated ourselves in a bubble (myself included), we will never get this time back to spend with our loved ones. The last twelve months were filled with precious time that could have been spent closer together rather than further apart. We could have given others the affection they dearly craved. We could have spent more time going out and enjoying the small things, like catching up with an old friend or spending a day at the park without restrictions. Instead, we spent 2020 more apart than ever—and with more lost time than can be accounted for.
As I examine the state of our country, I’m increasingly drawn to music for answers. When the pandemic began, I started making monthly playlists. Lately, I’ve been thinking about a song that truly reflects this holiday season’s tragedy: “Red Water (Christmas Mourning)” by Type O Negative.
The song’s lyrics make me question whether this past year’s isolation was justified: “My tables been set for but seven / Just last year I dined with eleven.” There’s something truly heart-wrenching, and timely, about the song’s message: “The stockings are hung but who cares? / Preserved for those no longer there.” As Type O Negative hauntingly acknowledges, the holidays are meant to be a time of joy, but all of us who have experienced the loss of a loved one understand the loneliness present when the holidays roll around. A spot on the couch or table becomes empty, and we try to avoid thinking about it.
This past year I’m not sure that any of us could avoid thinking about our losses, or our mortality. We received constant, dire reminders of death from a 24-hour news cycle, which profited from the exploitation of our emotions. And this same exploitative content continues to tell us that we should pass on spending time with our families and friends.
However, as we head into the New Year, it’s time to push back against this isolation campaign. Type O Negative’s song reminds us that we need to enjoy the time we have together. It’s time to stop missing opportunities with loved ones, simply because the vultures in our government, on our TVs, and on our social media timelines are trying to shame us into feeling like we are evil and selfish for wanting to spend precious time with those we care about most.
Don’t let the people, who often aren’t even following their own rules and advice, scare you into remaining alone and isolated. From politicians to even the occasional scientist, our country has seen its leaders defying their own orders. If their time is important enough for them to break rules, then so is yours. Don’t let them intimidate you. Don’t let them guilt trip you for doing the exact same thing that they have done: break isolation in order to live their lives while you don’t.
Ultimately, I fear death less than ever now, but I’ve opened my eyes to the importance of time, especially the time spent with those we love. And what I fear now is losing that—losing a piece of my life that I will never get back.
It’s ok to be scared, worried, and anxious. But it is not ok to let those feelings consume us. I’ll be the first to say that this is easier said than done. However, the first step is convincing others that they are not selfish for wanting to be around their loved ones during these times of desperation. Yes, we will always have memories of our loved ones. But, if it’s true that these could be our last days, then why do we want to miss out on being together in-person while we still can?
*The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.
Or maybe if people had stayed home for a little bit, we could have spent time with families for a lot of bit. Yeah it sucks that you didn’t get to see your family or friends, but maybe if there was a coordinated federal response to the pandemic, local politicians and the media wouldn’t have had to pick up the slack.
boo hoo i am sorry you cannot go fuck off with your two friends in person while millions of people are literally dying of this virus not going away because people like you refuse to take it seriously.
“The loneliness we’ve all felt might have been just as bad, or worse, than the disease itself” fuckin excuse me? not only is this a blatant numerical lie; it is also incredibly ignorant and insensitive.
“However, the first step is convincing others that they are not selfish for wanting to be around their loved ones during these times of desperation” if you truly loved your ‘loved ones’, then you would stop trying to kill them, but shit, maybe i’m just built different fr.
overall, exactly the type of piece i expect from the Thinker, but goddamn, still disappointing that 1.8 million people can die from this and cuntservatives still go “lol COVID fake, not important”
This disease is super dangerous if you are over 80. But then again, what isn’t at that age?
As to your “Numerical lie”, when does one hit the SUPER SCARY threshold? Just curious because flu deaths reach upwards to 650,000 per year globally, and no one bats an eyelash. Is it the 1 million mark? Heart disease killed almost 9 million in 2019 globablly. I don’t see you out marching for better heart health around the globe and mandatory treadmill ownership.
I guess the point is you are a typical leftist moron who wants a reason to panic so you don’t have to face each day acknowledging what a pathetic loser you are.
And before you shoot your ignorant fool mouth off some more, I’ve had Covid. It sucks, but it isn’t insurmountable. By all means though, go get your untested vaccine like a good little slave and don’t worry about it when you get cancer in 10 years, assuming you don’t die outright from “complications”.
Try less soy.
phew it’s the cognitive dissonance for me! I promise you’d still going to be blasting that song about dead loved ones if nobody followed the basic protocols for slowing infectious disease that people have been using for hundreds of years. thank you for sticking to an isolation bubble this year. as you said, it’s been a lonely time for everyone, but vaccines are being rolled out literally as we speak. we can all survive a few more months of video chatting our friends and family so we don’t, y’know, accidentally permanently disable/kill them
Dear Jaylen Briece Moulton,
This is the unfortunate truth: you are not a very good writer, even by the standards of this not-particularly-impressive website. I actually find your opinion pieces more palatable than those of your head honcho, Miss Duffy, who I think suffers from a lack of intelligence, or something like that, but it simply must be said that your writing would be served well by at least one, if not five, rounds of edits. Thank you for your time.