I am no ideologue. How anyone can buy into a whole belief system, political party, religion, ideology, off-the-peg is beyond me. ‘Do I contradict myself? very well then, I contradict myself, I contain multitudes’ is something said by Walt Whitman which resonates with me. This whole covid/lockdown phenomenon has had me questioning all my allegiances since day one. Some people seemed to immediately know what they thought before there was any evidence for what was actually going on. I have always questioned whether lockdowns were effective ways to reduce transmission or death. I have always known that lockdowns create scenarios where the healthy become the vulnerable too. I remember reading about an older man in Spain who loved nothing more than to go to the bar every day and enjoy chatting to his friends, watching the football on TV, drinking a few beers. He was happy. The Spanish government imposed a lockdown where effectively no exercise was allowed. The man sat on the sofa, day in, day out and died of thrombosis. Because he had hardly moved for three months. There are countless, yet mostly unprovable ways in which these scenarios create vulnerable people where previously they had been mentally and physically healthy.
Social media, and its excessive use under lockdown is re-wiring our brains through its almost entire lack of nuance. It has created binary and polarised thinking. People seem unable to think in ways that deconstruct any narrative. Even to question the efficacy of lockdowns and ask the question as to whether they are causing more collateral damage than the virus itself, is seen by many as a heartless attitude toward the elderly. Lockdowns are far less difficult for the elderly. People in their twilight years are more likely and happy to live lives of relative hermitage. Young people are forced onto screens, forced away from each other, forced to disengage, yet are expected to somehow find motivation to study without the usual healthy and stimulating peer pressure that is their rite of passage. So much of what people say online is deeply reductive, simplistic and absolutist, whereas realistically nothing exists that is so crude and basic. Every way you look at the issues of this time holds such complexity. I can barely discuss it without delving into the minutiae of everything, and philosophical discussions about life and death.
A covid death is reported as dying “with covid”. A friend’s aunt died of a heart attack. She was a covid death statistic because they tested her body, which tested positive, even though she was asymptomatic. The daily counts on the news are endless, wearing, grinding. A total nocebo.
I remember reading a study about how religious people, especially strict ones, had brain scans alongside non-religious people or ‘spiritual’people, and their scans showed fewer new neural pathways were formed, because their thinking and physiology was almost truncated by their beliefs. This showed in the scans. People prepared to think in alternative ways or did not adhere to any particular belief system showed that their brains were effectively still growing, This has been shown in the brains of runners, dancers, walkers, cyclists, artists, drummers in studies on EMDR. Movement, both physical and psychological, grows new neural pathways in the brain. Intransigence and strict ideology curtails it. This is just something I remember reading once and I wanted to write it down, only because I believe excessive use of technology, especially social media is dangerous for the mind, and causes a certain re-wiring. With all the arrows, signs and covid semiotics surrounding us we are certainly very easy to control and corral.
On my daily walks I meet people in passing and we always stop and chat (at safe distance, because of course I believe in the virus, and I have had it, and one of my friends is an ICU nurse, and we still know so little about it.) But it is so beautiful to hear a human voice, see a face, with all its nuance and micro-movements. It makes me almost elated. I simply never want to stop questioning. I am certain I never will. And that includes questioning my own thoughts too. I pray we live to tell the tale of how we endured this time, and that it was worth it. I pray people don’t give up through social isolation, addiction, depression, homelessness, job loss, marital breakdown ad nauseum. I pray that in Spring, as the days grow longer we feel a sense of possibility and can start to make plans again and to be able to hug and kiss each other without fear or guilt. I pray we start to grow again.