We were at Adonis in Quebec. It was Easter Friday. The third wave began its meteoric rise and I wanted to gut everyone.
Already that the crowds – especially in the shops – and the queues horrify me, there, the quantity of people and their lack of respect for a minimum of distancing were in the process of blowing me off.
Not so much for fear of catching COVID as because, as usual, my neighbor’s lack of common sense infuriated me. In particular, here from my next.
For the third time in less than a minute, an elderly lady leaned in front of us, brushing against us, breathing about three inches from my fiancee’s face through a mask that looked more like a pocket handkerchief, barely holding on to his face, as pitiful as a decayed old thong having lost all its elasticity.
The fourth time, I exploded. Awkwardly. Too strong. Without warning. “A little space, respect, maybe?” The lady replied that I was “asleep”. I was also dealing with a conspirator. My sweet, ashamed, was running away with the tzatziki while I shouted at the lady who had “done her research” a thunderous ” fuck you, # & @ * the full! »
Chic as well. A headfirst dive into pandemic social anxiety.
“Ahhh… David and the people,” a friend of ours wrote the edifying anecdote to a discussion group on Messenger. This is the phrase that has come up to me the most often in this conversation space since the start of the pandemic. My friends know that I love them, but in general I have more and more misery with people. And especially since the months that have just passed have largely contributed to fueling my irritability. Not to say my misanthropy.
The amount of nonsense that has been said and done online and elsewhere has not helped. I almost quit Facebook, exiled myself from Instagram, and only frequented Twitter as a discreet and stealthy little bird. But what has filtered through to me despite this, the demonstrations, the gurus, the theses at five cents, here is what ended up disgusting me royally with a whole section of the supposedly civilized human race.
To another friend, I confided: “I don’t really know how I’m going to manage to start living in society again. “He replied,” Me neither. But I still haven’t figured out if he’s talking about him or me.
While the businesses are reopening their doors, friends and acquaintances who work there all describe to me scenes of customer intolerance, unsightly and scandalous gestures that have nothing to do with respecting sanitary rules. Impatience has won us over. Citizenship takes it for its cold.
Also, after months of dreaming of meeting people, I find myself seeing my enthusiasm wane considerably.
Let me explain all this simply: we have no doubt lost the habit of the other. And any notion of otherness.
Life online is easy. One can vehemently oppose. We can ignore. You can scream out indignation. But life in society is made up of dozens of small mitigation measures that we impose on ourselves so as not to jump in the face of the neighbor. Modesty. A detention. The awareness that living in a shared physical space comes with its share of inconveniences … which are not always worth the trouble of being indignant or crumpled up.
The trouble is that incivility cultivates incivility. I was already struggling to endure this one. My intolerance to the lack of civic-mindedness in turn makes me lack civic-mindedness. And so we enter a spiral of verbal abuse and loathsome behavior that unfortunately seems to be prevalent in public places in this almost post-pandemic era.
For the past 15 months, I have missed the ones I love. Verry much. I didn’t miss the rest of society so much. Its rumor, yes. Discussions watched, too. The collective movement that people form, I find it with happiness. But I’m afraid the pandemic has made us cranky, intolerant of what everyone, personally, considers silly. And I fear above all that it has made us incapable of not being angry about it.
Here, I’m not even talking about all those we’ve seen arguing online for impossible theses, stepping up to say that we live in a dictatorship, or outright defying authority by refusing sanitary measures. I’m talking more about family, friends. People we know, whom we have come to know differently in times of crisis, and with whom we will also have to make peace. If we don’t decide to take them out of our lives.
The return to normal may not be as festive and sassy as we imagined, then. We may not immediately throw ourselves into the arms of all our fellows, as in the images of end-of-war euphoria.
Thus, it is undoubtedly a good thing that the deconfinement is progressive. It will allow us to re-tame ourselves quietly. This will be the other “long COVID”. The one who will ask us for time to heal from the pandemic, but in our heads.