The UK officially entered into lockdown on March 24th 2020 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. In a previous blog, I commented on how relatively little my own routine would change under lockdown, as my way of shopping and doing volunteering in particular had radically altered since June 2019, in such a way it was lockdown friendly anyway.
My initial lockdown blog was written after two weeks, and I’d just managed to successfully record at home my monthly two hour hospital radio show for March. In the five weeks since, the April edition of my Angie’s Allsorts show has been broadcast AND I’ve developed an idea to produce a show called Beautiful Sunday. This has been an ambition for years, but I couldn’t commit to being in the studio on a Sunday because of my reliance on public transport. However, remote recording has made my fortnightly Beautiful Sunday show a reality, making its debut for Easter on 12th April. The three shows I’ve created so far I hope evoke a pleasant and calm atmosphere, and provide a much needed “ahh moment” for patients to enjoy. All the music and poetry/verse pieces are carefully chosen to complement my personal stories, and I wonder if my musings are anything like the legendary fireside chat radio recordings of President Franklin D Roosevelt? Certainly in these rather strange times I’ve drawn upon memories, feelings and at times a growing awareness of those things that have grounded and shaped me. If listeners can relate to what I’m saying and feel I’m talking directly to them sharing stories, perhaps they will feel a little better and less lonely too. That’s what I hope for anyway. My creativity has heightened and my volunteering productivity increased, despite having no football to commentate and being home based.
Part of my growing awareness, is realising where some of my reactions stem from regarding the pandemic crisis. Seven weeks into the lockdown, it has dawned on me I’ve created my own personal lockdown format too. I’ve gone from being a TV news junkie to switching off completely since the lockdown announcement itself, with the exception of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech on Sunday May 10th announcing some relaxation of lockdown rules in England. I check news app headlines (CNN, Sky, BBC) daily on my phone, read the odd article here and there, and view Twitter trends with wry amusement. I’ve known a long time that Twitter inhabits its own bubble, but I can gauge what’s going on for example in breakfast TV shows by the trends. This usually confirms to me why I don’t tend to watch them, but the Twitter trends can also be enlightening as well. When several disinfectant brand names simultaneously trended I knew something was wrong, and a President Trump speech was behind it. And I found out about Capt Tom Moore’s fund raising efforts through Twitter as well. So I can keep abreast of the Coronavirus situation very well, without watching TV news literally consumed by the pandemic story. The monotony of bad news and depressing statistics can’t be good for anyone’s mental health well being,
Of course social media provides everyone with a sound box where they can rant about anything and everything. As a result it can be a very nasty world being vindictive and downright vicious at times. I’ve seen people being verbally mauled on Facebook and Twitter just for having a different viewpoint, or standing up for themselves. So rather than lockdown making me closer to people through social media, it’s made me effectively run in the opposite direction. I don’t want to be anywhere near someone (virtually or physically) who with sanctimonious self-righteousness THINKS they know how I’m behaving and isn’t afraid to stick the boot in. My husband will jump into any “discussion/argument” with his size 10 ½ feet and go on and on and on with his views, although admittedly he has kept quiet about the pandemic issue since lockdown began. But I’ve never had that mindset, I can’t be bothered getting into a dialogue that is effectively a written fight, I don’t have the inclination nor the energy and would begrudge the time spent on it as well.
This “mindful running away” from aggression and unpleasantness I’ve realised directly stems from growing up witnessing domestic violence. Although people knew what was going on, there was no talk about it, so no questions asked and no telling tales. It was me, the level headed responsible child, who separated fights and became the emotional support/counsellor to my mum. But no one was mine! Behind the respectable facade I dealt with the emotional chaos ALONE with nothing but the TV, music, my teddies and pet dog and canary for solace. This inflicted isolation I had thrust upon me at too young an age, means that the lockdown social isolation people bemoan has no terrors for me at all. I kept quiet about so much when I was younger it’s easy for me to clam up with a “no-comment” mindset regarding anything unpalatable. My parents were so wrapped up in themselves my opinions never mattered, and little thought went into how I was feeling about things. Joining Facebook was quite a big deal for me, because it was a way of expressing thoughts and feelings and sharing news about what was going on in my life, not that I was sure anyone cared. And of course there has been the delight of finding long lost names from the past and reconnecting with them. But over the seven weeks of lockdown I’ve barely spent any time on Facebook (less than 2 to 3 hours in total), just briefly skimming the five most recent posts on my feed. On the pandemic crisis I’ve reposted two amusing pictures/one news link and made ONE personal post (regarding a work email my husband received) that’s it. Personally I’ve posted about my remote recording for hospital radio and made about four tentative Facebook message enquiries. But I had to really force myself to do even this, my natural inclination to go silent. Twitter posts have been just as sporadic as well, although I’ve advertised my blogs there but not on Facebook. I’m painfully aware I’ve gone into my protective bubble mode as a way of coping with the pandemic situation. A couple of random posts spotted from one particular friend helped remind me of the more fun aspects social media can provide. So having delved joyfully into my photo archives, I will hopefully be a little less withdrawn and a bit more proactive on Facebook again soon.