Quarantine Musings, Day 3: Ambient Awareness

I figured this quarantine would lead to an explosion in shitposting; a Renaissance. I figured friends and family would reach out, we’d laugh and take shots over video chat. I figured, after a few days, they will realize this is (probably) not the end of the world, and begin to act in good spirits. This would be just like Summer vacation, but as adults (and it’s actually Spring). Yet, it’s Sunday, I’ve been cooped up inside my apartment for about seven days and instead of seeing the whole squad making the best of a bad situation, I’m seeing less activity on the timeline than ever. Instagram isn’t percolating with motivational stories. Almost no one is posting at all. My group chats with friends have begun to fizzle. The only person posting seems to be myself. I shutter at the thought of what Facebook looks like.

My normal lifestyle consists of sitting in my room on the computer from morning until night, reading, shitposting on twitter, etc. I haven’t really felt much of a decrease in life quality outside of not being able to go on dates. For the most part, I’m content interacting with racist bodybuilders on twitter to entertain myself, but I can’t help but feel a sense of dread as the timeline begins to wane in activity. Call it ambient awareness.

Ambient awareness is a term I found in some blog about a decade ago around when social media became more popular. Essentially, it’s the notion that we’ve all become subconsciously aware of the happenings of people in our lives. We get notifications of their location, we hear updates about their hobbies and interest, etc. In turn, this provides a subtle yet persistent awareness of their lives. Since we’re all cooped up within our homes, you would think we would be hyper-aware of our friends lives. We should know exactly what show they’re watching and when they take their daily shit. And yet, I feel like I’m hearing less from them. Of course there are exceptions, but on the whole, I can already feel the steep decline in morale. There’s only so many “Throwback Thursday” PCB pictures you can scavenge for in the camera roll before doping on nostalgia has run its course.

We are only a week into quarantine and the minimum estimate for how long this will last is 6-8 weeks; people are going to lose their minds. The mental state of the modern citizen has already been in steep decline, there’s no way that 8+ weeks of isolation will do anything but exacerbate this. There’s a real chance people will begin to ignore concerns to stay indoors or even worse, begin to riot. It’s not a comforting thought, but I don’t really have many comforting thoughts at the moment. While I finally have the luxury of working youtube videos, writing in peace, and catching up on my backlog of reading, I am genuinely concerned that New York City will turn into a war zone.

Worrying about things which are out of your control is unproductive. so I’m not going to stress, but my “summer vacation” might come to an end sooner than I think.

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