Lockdown can mean many things, time with family, avoiding something that could potentially kill you, but is it an opportunity for continued personal development, not according to Getintothis’ Mia Hind.
On the 2nd April 2020, American businessman Jeremy Haynes tweeted this:
If you don’t come out of this quarantine with either:
1.) a new skill
2.) starting what you’ve been putting off like a new business
3.) more knowledge
You didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked the discipline
— Jeremy Haynes (@TheJeremyHaynes) April 2, 2020
The tweet saw over three thousand retweets.
Then the format was repeated a number of times, some serious and some not so much.
If you don’t come out of this quarantine with
1) a new skill,
2) your own barbarian kingdom
3) the skulls of your enemies dotted around your drinking hall as trophies
— you never lacked time. You lacked discipline. https://t.co/lEYJBovH6F
— . (@twlldun) April 22, 2020
Chances are, he sent it with the best of intentions.
Possibly hoping to remind people that now everybody was stuck at home.
Suggesting that “I don’t have time” wasn’t really an excuse anymore.
The idea that people can finally get started on the millions of projects they’ve been putting off is a great one.
It is, however, not always realistic, as many of the replies reminded Jeremy.
Firstly, Jeremy, for some, quarantine means less free time, not more. Secondly, the high stress many are experiencing is a barrier to achievement; nobody’s writing a bestseller while they worry about the family they can’t see or the growing rent arrears. Don’t make it worse.
— Oonagh (@Okeating) April 3, 2020
Man you think this is a vacation? You think we’re all on some kind of fancy sabbatical here? The global pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of people and plunging countless others into poverty is a fun long weekend to you? That’s honestly how you experience this?
— Katie Mack (@AstroKatie) April 4, 2020
First of all, plenty of people are still working.
Key workers, NHS and care staff, supermarket staff, delivery drivers, teachers, are all risking their health and their lives on the daily. But there are also a lot of people working from home, which is not as easy as it sounds.
The change in routine and usual working location can have an effect on your concentration, for a start. And let’s not forget the parents trying to homeschool their kids while trying to focus on their day job.
For many people, lockdown and quarantine have not afforded them more time to work on passion projects or pick up a new skill, in fact, it has been the exact opposite for a lot of people.
Whether that’s because of work or kids or just the existential dread that seems to have come along with an international pandemic, that’s okay.
Self-improvement and upskilling isn’t a bad thing, let me make that abundantly clear.
But there is something sinister about putting productivity before the health and wellbeing of ourselves and those around us. We see it every day as a part of living in a capitalist culture, with many having to work long hours just to be able to afford to put food on the table; or people taking on more hours in hopes of a promotion or a pay rise.
It is no coincidence that the same key workers we have been clapping for every Thursday are often these same underpaid and undervalued workers.
Society’s obsession with near-constant productivity when most of us scarcely reap the benefits of those long hours is killing us. Our days don’t always have to be made up of being productive and we shouldn’t be made to feel bad for not managing to do as much as we did pre-lockdown.
Now more than ever, we should be encouraging people to do what’s best for them.
For some, that is picking up new skills or improving ones they already have. But that isn’t everybody. We’re living through a globally traumatic event and being kept up-to-date on Coronavirus-related death tolls is depressing.
Being isolated from friends and family for the foreseeable future with no end in sight is also really depressing.
To put it bluntly: the whole situation is.
The words“Self-care” gets thrown around a lot, often with the advice of doing a face mask and watching Netflix, don’t let that put you off, taking care of yourself and those around you, however it looks, is incredibly important.
Some days it might be doing a face mask and Netflix, most days it’s probably not. One day it might be trying to cling on to any remaining shred of normalcy; other days it might be staying in pyjamas all day and calling a friend.
The point is, getting through tough times often looks different for everyone.
Especially for something like this, where almost everybody is affected and is feeling worn out by it. The last thing we need to do is police how people get through it. Unless, of course, that person is not socially distancing. In which case: police away.
It would be fantastic to say we achieved something more than just surviving during the lockdown.
A lot of us probably will, just by accident as we try to keep ourselves entertained in such restricted circumstances. But prioritising learning three languages, how to code Python and starting a business from home above all else during times like these won’t matter if we don’t take care of ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.
In fact, without taking care of those three things first and foremost, nothing will truly matter.
Let kindness lead, towards yourself and towards others.
When the tough times blow over, we’ll be remembered for the good we put out and how we tried help each other. We won’t be remembered for suggesting people just trying to live through a global pandemic are not disciplined.