Judging from social media, people are struggling to find things to do during our unexpected “distancing.” But actually, there are plenty of things to do.
Mow the lawn.
Call relatives you haven’t seen, or even talked to, since Christmas.
Declutter your clothes closet.
Clean out your garage.
And, contact friends to see how they’re doing.
What I really meant to say is, WE are struggling to find something to write on social media.
Welcome to my world. I recognize that generating a newspaper column once a week pales in comparison to the burden that some feel to post something on Facebook a dozen times a day. To take up the slack, after an hour has passed since the last time they posted something online, they decide to fill the void by sharing something — sharing anything — another person posted. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s unverified, hurtful, or intentionally misleading. That’s how a ton of flawed information gets spread.
What does matter, however, is that the itch to post has been scratched for another hour.
I find it helpful to schedule activities in advance for specific days. For example, I scheduled a call to my aunt Sunday. She lives alone in South Carolina, and her nephews and nieces have decided that this is a good thing for us to do.
Then, I scheduled mowing the lawn for Monday, and I accomplished that.
I see that “cleaning out” the closet and the garage come next on the list, but I really don’t want to burn through everything too quickly. It appears we can expect this stay-at-home business to be with us for the long haul, and I’d hate to run out of things to do. So, I’ve penciled in Day 50 for the closet, and Day 60 for the garage, just to be safe. My assignment for today, obviously, is writing this week’s column.
Maybe I’ll schedule thinking about next week’s column tomorrow.
Facebook has never been a place for thoughtful, researched commentary on current events. Thankfully, there’s been something of a break in the partisan bickering and unsubstantiated bitterness that had become so common before the coronavirus outbreak. Some have tried their best to combine the two, but recently, others have managed to override the nastiness with kindness.
Perhaps you’ve seen, and even participated in, a series of Facebook requests to post photographs of landscapes of places you’ve visited. Remember how we used to cringe when people invited us over to their house to watch slides of their vacation? Well, it’s just another indication of how bored we have become.
One of the more common posts circulating asks that people not include any text with their travel photos. I regret this. Inquiring minds want to know, it’s been said, and I would really like to see details. They taught us in journalism school that every picture needs a caption, but apparently that edict is being universally ignored — just like using “your” for “you’re.”
I don’t have the energy. Do such things really matter anymore?
Happily, the Lyric Theatre, which currently is observing an extended intermission in compliance with restrictions on public gatherings, has asked its players over the years to post photographs of their favorite performances. What a wonderful stroll through yesteryear that has been.
Unfortunately, many of these things have started to become repetitive. How can you politely tell your good friend (in-person friend, not just on Facebook) that you saw and solved that math picture puzzle last week, or pretend to be appropriately amazed when your relative posts that drawing with 27 figures of speech?
However, none of these duplications rival the overuse of the phrase “out of an abundance of caution” in emails from businesses announcing temporary closings.
For now, I’ll gratefully embrace the onset of boredom. I can’t imagine how families cope when both parents are forced to work from home, while they also try to serve as classroom teachers to young children.
We will all get through this. Stay safe.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at email@example.com.