Our generation was the first one who got lost in a virtual world. We were told to go to the playground and be with other kids – instead of sitting in front of the computer. We were told to meet with friends – instead of chatting with them online until midnight. We were told to live our lives – instead of posting about it on social media. They, the adults, rolled their eyes, telling us that we need to know the difference between the virtual and the real life.
Now everyone is told not to go anywhere and live online. We are told not to meet with our friends and family but Skype with them. We are told not to travel but stay at home and do virtual museum tours. We are told not to go to the cinema or theater but watch movies and performances online. We are told not to go to work but work from home. Kids are told not to go to school but study online. We are told to keep distance from other people. We are told not to hug, kiss or touch each other. We are told to spend as little time outdoors as we can.
And some say you have to find the good in anything. They tell us about all the online opportunities to watch movies, theater performances, reading nights, yoga classes and oh, God knows what else. Everything is available online. They encourage us to arrange group calls and video chats. And I quietly wander when things in my life will be real again.
Because even though I’ve grown up with computers and worked in the IT industry all my life, I always knew the difference between my virtual and real life. I think everyone does. Deep down we know that we need to walk hand-in-hand in the sunshine, grab an ice-cream and sit down on a bench next to each other, sit around a table and open a bottle of beer, look into each others’ eyes. Not virtually. Really.
Some say it’s no big deal to stay at home for a few weeks (then they correct themselves and say months… then they admit they don’t know how long). No, it’s not staying at home for two weeks is what is a big deal here. The big deal is that we lost our real lives. And our plans and dreams.
And then there’s someone who warns us that it won’t be like this forever. It will end. I know that. But I’m not sure I want to know how it ends. It’s not the virus I’m most afraid of. It’s the change that it brings to our world. It’s the irreversible change in our world and our souls that I’m afraid of. And nobody talks about that. Because nobody knows it.
Some say that such big changes as this one bring new opportunities we’ve never even dreamed of. I hope I’ll be able to recognize and appreciate them when the time comes. But first I need to mourn all the opportunities that we’ve lost. First I need to let go of the world I know and I’ve so passionately explored. I’m not sure I’m ready for that. But I want my life to be real again.
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