One of the more interesting lessons to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic was the realisation that time was in fact not exactly what we needed. Books collect dust, endless hobbies wait in Sisyphean anticipation to be explored, and Netflix cries out for your attention, or at least your continued cash for subscription loyalty. After all, once you do find something worth bingeing on, after a few hours playing in its trap, it asks ‘are you still watching?’ Taunting you for the great ruse it has pulled over your eyes. More sinisterly, the devil’s greatest trick pales in comparison to the one played by Capitalism. The abominable truth is that we cannot help but want what we cannot otherwise have. A need that falls short of our reach is, well, I suppose its rather boring. And at the moment I’m so bored that even the existential dread of my own, inevitable end cannot move me to take out the rubbish. For I, and by a social-distancing compliant extension, 1.7 billion other people on this planet are in quarantine, lockdown, or some other form of isolation and movement control. So at least there is a comfort in the knowledge that I, we, are not alone in our aloneness. Beyond the obvious disruption of work and life, how are we to bide the time. How can such strictly enforced monotony be confronted, engaged, or navigated? How will entertainment save us at this moment of great need? Can we even be entertained in such dark times?
The feat put before our sources of entertainment is not an easy one in any sense of the word. Our attention spans are at their most apathetic. We grieve, in our forced hermitage, the murder of our fair motivation, but in light of its now being an ex-motivation, couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it. Anxiety stabs at our side because ‘things should be happening’ but they aren’t. But if we knew how to deal with anxiety without exceptionally addictive and questionable side-effect latent drugs, the world would be a far greater place than we all know it is capable of being. A false FOMO (fear of missing out) for a world that cannot exist beside COVID-19 conjures the thirst that compels a shipwrecked survivor to drink vast quantities of sea water. Suddenly, yes while I have always wanted to sit around and binge watch that one show or finally watch all the films of my favourite franchise back to back, I can’t. At least not comfortably.