Like most people in the UK, I have spent the last three weeks in lockdown, and experienced significant curtailment in social activities in the two weeks before that. At first I was somewhat blasé about it – after all, I normally work from home, I live by myself, and I walk to the local shops – but last week it started to bite.
The key realisation is how many events I attend and rely on for social interaction. People sometimes joke about how I like to organise events and turn up all over the place, but it wasn’t until the cancellation emails started to arrive that the penny dropped. ManLUG, NetMcr, Mcrsf, Manchester Classical Association, Currybeer, Geek Walks – these are just a selection of events that are no longer happening in person. Some have successfully moved to online meetings, though it can be difficult to tell who is waiting to speak, especially in large groups.
The lockdown has also thrown a spanner into the works when it comes to dating. I’ve had a few virtual dates, with outcomes ranging from catastrophic to encouraging, but it’s difficult to tell if someone is interested. On the flip side, it does avoid wasted journeys, particularly as I’m usually the one making the longest trip and 90% of first dates go nowhere.
The cancellation of events and not needing to travel to events which have been virtualised (a Manchester city centre round trip is 90-120 minutes) does mean that I have significantly more free time. I’m using this opportunity to learn Laravel (a PHP framework which will be useful for work) by creating a system to help manage my freelance business. I’m also re-learning Latin, which I last studied seriously for my MA back in 2006/7, and slowly working through the backlog of reading material I have spread across my flat.
Overall, I’m more fortunate than most – I still have work coming in, I’m being paid for it, and I could afford to go without work for some time – but I am starting to find it difficult now. Not knowing how long the lockdown will last and not being able to do anything proactive to bring about a return to normality are the most frustrating aspects.