If you don’t come out of this quarantine with either:
1.) a new skill
2.) starting what you’ve been putting off like a new business
3.) more knowledge
You didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked the discipline.
If you’ve been using any form of social media recently, and have somehow dodged the presence of this tweet or a reply to it — you’ve probably been doing better than most people. It’s caused a bit of upset.
When I first saw this being shared around, I shared it myself. It felt like a great morale boost at a time where a lack of certainty or schedule was daunting. Like many, I was temporarily laid off due to changes in business operations during the current pandemic, and it all happened so quickly. The night it was announced that the public were to stay within 2km of their residence, I panicked. What was I going to do? Will I be able to pay rent next month? Will I be stuck at home? Will my family be okay? I had also been clouded with unfinished projects, half-baked ideas, and being generally a bit scatterbrained regarding my daily routines. Seeing that message was just the thing I needed to ground myself, assess what I could do, and make use of what I had available to get through these challenging weeks. I saw an opportunity.
Seeing the responses to this tweet, and reappropriation of the original message, I realised this rubbed people up the wrong way. A lot. People have been rallying against ‘hustle culture’ in recent years, feeling it creates toxic non-stop working environments where employees burn out. Naturally, not everyone is blessed with this kind of situation. There are those working remotely from home, in businesses that were not equipped to handle the nuances of remote working, and constantly pinging their employees with unnecessary conference calls. There are families — some of those that may be experiencing domestic abuse. People facing financial difficulty — small businesses at the point of collapse.
It’s fair to say — I don’t think anyone is going out of their way to invalidate your own personal struggle, and I don’t think even Jeremy was saying it either, despite the ill-informed wording. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the Internet that what you say will be interpreted by every member of the human spectrum, and there are few words that can positively impact every one of them. The tone of the tweet was widely perceived as insulting and ignorant — there’s no doubt why it was viewed that way by many, and rightly so. However, instead of using this as another opportunity to project negativity, finding a more positive message from it can be a lot more meaningful to your individual situation.
One thing I have seen a lot recently is the term self-care. I believe in self-care, I do — we all get a release sometimes from a takeaway, a hot soak, a drink — but the Internet’s current black-and-white capitalist model of self-care, which seems more revolved around binging on sugar and Netflix in the promises that ‘treating yourself’ will fix everything, is not something I buy into or endorse. That’s self-indulgence, and it’s totally valid to partake in it even a little more than normal these days, but an excess of it is going to end in a crash.
Real self-care is unfortunately less instantly gratifying — because if the Internet’s model worked, we simply wouldn’t have so many in the world feeling anxious and vaguely unhappy regardless of their living situation. It takes reflection and personal development and sometimes doing things that the ego wants to resist and push away. It is a personal journey that a single guide or message can’t solve. I feel like this was the message Jeremy had intended to send out — but padding it in an accusatory tone meant it was reframed as a ‘telling off’ rather than a message of owning the situation. Unmoderated social media spaces find it hard to find the balance because there are many who believe in either purely indulgent self-care and those who are about workaholic hustle culture. It’s a shame there isn’t space for something in between for the rest of us.
It’s better not to judge those who do subscribe to this tweet’s message either — consider that for some, putting time and focus into project work and productivity is their own way of making the most of what they have and escaping the barrage of negativity that these times bring.
If you are one of those people at home with time on your hands — if your family is in a safe situation and you find yourself with excess free time — do take advantage of this opportunity in a way that is fulfilling and balanced. Do that morning workout you said you were going to do for months; read a book that has been looking lonely on the shelf. Draw a picture, organise a quiz with friends. You don’t have to do it all at once, and some days something as simple as walking to the shop for groceries and back can be that small way you took control of your situation.
This is an important time for many to be vigilant against damaging news and social media storms — absorb only what you need to; if you find yourself actively flicking through stories, false claims, negative arguments about the current situation, it’s up to you to block them and focus on what keeps you sane. Check your mood during these times and note what hurts it or nurtures it. For me, it’s YouTube commentary on anything to do with this current situation — it’s a seething morass of misinformation and ‘one-upping’ of others opinions. It creates frustration and helplessness — I’m not going to allow that to affect my day.
This is a struggle, one of those few that the whole world can relate to, that much is true. No matter where you stand and what your situation is, don’t spend this time focused on what you can’t control and losing yourself in passive-aggressive social diatribe. Being yet another angry response on Twitter isn’t making Jeremy’s life any easier or harder — but it’s almost certainly going to affect your own. The mental reframing of this pandemic can be the make or break in allowing yourself that opportunity to do things that elevate you and enrich you, be they ‘productive’ or not.