These sure are trying times for the world. So much for “it’s just a flu”, eh? This Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic is no laughing matter indeed, and it has seriously impacted everyone.
Curfews, shortages, layoffs, self isolation, and social quarantines have shattered everyone’s routines. Many now see themselves going through a severely restricted societal and economical livelihood, as if the future wasn’t uncertain enough as it was.
I understand that many around the globe are finding this period of social isolation rather unbearable, and the forced loneliness that undoubtedly comes with it can be taxing for one’s well-being. While this newfound isolation might be shocking and most terrible to some, I find it opportune to remind people that there are some of us that have lived most of our lives in this manner, due to varied reasons—after all, we all have our own stories.
Not all of us are extroverted and possessing of the interpersonal relationship abilities and confidence that others often take for granted—which lets them have a go at that ‘social life’ that they now see themselves deprived of.
Many of us have been shunned time and time again for being the social outcasts throughout our lives. This post (and thus, the words contained therein) are, by no means, intended to chastise anyone, or to antagonize normies with a “How’s it feel now, sucker?” or similar jabs. It is simply, a way for me to share some of my personal, borderline incoherent thoughts in this subject, and hopefully, to open up a little with the world—something I very much yearn for these days, specially now that we’ve all been isolated to the confines of our households.
It must suck, really, to be extroverted and reliant on socializing so much, then suddenly have your social life stripped from you so abruptly; to wake up one day and feel like you’re basically a pseudo prisoner in your own house due to this pandemic. The opposite can be said for people like me, who life and force majeure have thrown us into that open world we sometimes don’t understand or make sense of.
You may find yourself suddenly unable to interact with your friends and significant others, and the detachment sure does a number on your head. But they won’t (or shouldn’t) stop being friends with you just because you can’t hang out with them right this instant. Nor does these lockdowns (mandatory in many places) erase the shared experiences you’ve had with them.
I’m sure there’s stuff you can do or try to keep your mind at peace during these trying times that we live in, from reading, to exercise, to other hobbies or even new learning experiences. What I honestly hope you don’t do, however, is to use this newfound free time of yours to perpetually get mad at things over the internet. I mean, come on…
Sure, I don’t really feel pity about those poor celebrities that are currently stuck in their multi-million dollar mansions, desperate for that attention and idolatry that they’ve become so dependent on (which social media exacerbates nowadays), but when it comes to regular people, those mortals that currently feel lonely and isolated, then yes, you have my sincere sympathies, because that’s how I’ve felt most of my life, that loneliness is a long companion of mine—and it does suck.
These past days have been rather peculiar, for the lack of a better word. In the case of Venezuela, wearing a mask to go outside is quasi-mandatory, in these past days, feeling like everyone else is looking at you and everyone else with distrust is a recurring sensation, and I’m sure it can make people feel uneasy and whatnot, but let’s be real, everyone else must be jittery, anxious, and depressed too, they’re all going through this just as you are.
The masks people are wearing, and the ones they wear around others, I’m sure that someone smarter and with a better craftsmanship of words than me can concoct an elaborate metaphor for this peculiar period of our lives, but at least in my case, I’ve never had the need to wear any of those metaphorical masks with others, I simply am who I am, be it online or in real life.
I’ve never been good at the whole socializing aspect of life, and I’ve found it hard to feel comfortable around social situations. There’s also other demons of my own that don’t help with this regard, such as my general lack of self worth, and my less than stellar appearance—more worn and weathered in recent times. I’ve put all of it aside so I could focus on my main goals but it’s not a healthy solution to be honest, I ought to overcome these sooner than later for my own well-being—perhaps even seek help with this regard, but as always, I have priorities to attend to first.
Maybe it’s because we had to constantly move from one place to another in search of a better life, and thus I found myself as the ‘new fat kid’ in school more than a handful of times throughout my life, or maybe it’s because that’s how God intended for me to be, whatever the reason is, it is what it is, and I try my earnest to not to let that bring me down, even though it sometimes does.
For an introvert such as me, life hasn’t changed that much due to this pandemic beyond a disruption in some activities, and having to plan my groceries trips and meals. It must suck to not being able to hang around with your friends like you were doing up until a few days/weeks ago for those that have seen a disruption in this crucial aspect of their lives. In my case, those that I consider my closest friends, people who I can trust the most in this life, are people I’ve never met in person—and in more recent years, I’ve met a band of lads that I can not just call friends, but I now consider them family as well.
I owe them the world, and then some more.
The first friendship I ever had is one that I owe to video games, Megaman X to be precise. Our mutual love for this game is how I bonded with the person that I could consider my first friend ever back in first grade. Alas, we moved to a different city and we never met again, mind you, this was a time before the internet, so yeah.
At the lack of more normal relationships, friendships forged through video games is a constant aspect of my life. The longest friendship I’ve had with someone, by far, is one that started sixteen years ago in a video game: Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.
Had I not been reckless with my modded Xbox console then I would’ve most likely never interacted with him in my life, fate perhaps, demanded me to be a moron and brick my console back in the day so that the chain of events were set in motion.
We’ve never met face to face, and life has taken both of us towards totally different roller coasters. We don’t see eye to eye when it comes to many topics, politics being one of the most polarized ones (He’s a Bernie dude, so you can imagine how that goes).
We’ve sure had many disagreements over the past years, but in spite of all, we remain good friends. At the same time, we’ve managed to work on creating great and unique things over the course of these sixteen years (and counting). Back in the day we created a very ambitious script, to this day we still dream of one day bringing that story to life one way or another, but we all have other personal dreams to pursuit first—time will tell if we ever are able to fulfill this joint dream of ours in the future.
Regardless, our polarized nature is perhaps, what has made this chaotic friendship of us last all these years. That Pythagorean philosophy of the harmonization of opposites and the conciliation of warring elements that I often love employ in my works—maybe our friendship is a product of that.
Video Games is how I’ve coped with the isolated and social outcast nature of my reality, and how I’ve achieved some of the few accomplishments that I can be proud of in my life. It may sound silly for some, and some others would even say pathetic, but again, it is what it is.
I suppose it’s because while my life has been filled with chaos and things beyond my control ever since I was little, video games (especially online ones) have offered me a modicum of constancy, stability, structure, sense of community, belonging, and even order, despite my mischievousness in say, Player vs Player content and whatnot during my teenage years.
And if my case may be laughable to some then what about my brother? Who is even more shut in than me and only feels comfortable talking about stuff he is knowledgeable about, such as Pokemon or Smash Bros.
After a troublesome high school for him, I comprise the sheer majority of his interactions with other human beings these days. To this day, there’s still plenty of subjects he doesn’t feel comfortable talking with me about, The person he was the most open with was my mother, and life took her away from us.
For him to be able to open up to the world, to once again interact with others, to unleash his potential, and do carve a path of his own that lets him achieve the ultimate goal in life: happiness, that’s all part of the promise I made to my mother, one that pains me to admit that I haven’t been able to fulfill in these past two years, but one that I will find the means to accomplish, even if it’s the last thing I do.
What I’m trying to say with this somewhat long ramble of mine is that your life doesn’t and will not stop simply because you can’t go out and do whatever it is normies do due to this pandemic, and that this isolated loneliness you and others may be experiencing is what others such as myself have considered part of our normal lives for the longest time.
With time, this too shall pass, and we’ll all be back to our regular weekly loops, but in the meantime, we owe it to ourselves and to those that we care and depend on us to stay safe and remain resolute. If you’re feeling lonely I’m always up for a chat, I’m just as lonely as you are, heck, time permitting and provided my Socialist ISP stops being bitchy and throttling the crap out of this barely working ADSL line, I’ll try to play video games with you.
Don’t forget, you’re never truly alone.