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 totell usthat weshould 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 oftenaren’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.
Jaylen Moulton is a Staff Writer for the Chicago Thinker. As a senior at the University of Chicago, she studies Cinema and Media Studies and Germanic Studies. Along with politics, she has a great love for her home state of California, enjoys the thrill of horror movies, revels in the energy of metal music, and finds peace in the little details of everyday life.