The Times newspaper published an article on Monday called “I have lockdown nostalgia, and I’m not alone”. The piece by fashion editor, Harriet Walker is concerning but predictable evidence that lockdowns could return at the drop of a hat at some point in the future.
I’ve had several conversations recently — at parties, ironically enough — that confirmed what the guilty little voice in my head has been whispering for some time: for many people, the enforced planlessness of lockdown was actually quite nice.
Many of the laptop class, those who could work from home, actually enjoyed their freedoms being taken away from them. Sad. Their lives were in such a mess, so exhausting and so stressful that they needed someone to imprison them to feel better about themselves. Instead of taking control of their own existence, by changing things that weren’t working for them, they required society to lock them up. Pathetic
In some sense I feel sorry for these people. Nobody should feel that their lives are so out of control that they need something as extreme as lockdowns to subdue the chaos. It’s ironic that the worldwide chaos caused by lockdowns actually returned order to those whose lives were already in chaos.
But these really were first world problems that the laptop class wanted to hide away from. And most of which could have been sorted out by themselves or if external influence was required, with therapy.
Let me get my tiny violin out to play some incredibly sad music whilst I listen to Harriet’s reasons for longing for lockdowns. “Constantly ferrying the kids between things”, “the roster of weekend clubs and activities” and weeknight work events”. Tough life, maybe she should do a life swap with one of the hundreds of millions of people who were pushed into extreme poverty due to lockdowns.
Even single friends I expected to be livid with me for mentioning the L-word said they were wistful for time that didn’t come with the pressure to be used efficiently or productively. In this age of constant omni-channel communication, maintaining friendships can often feel like a second job.
That’s because you have rich friends, Harriet. They sat in their gardens, made banana bread and watched Netflix whilst the furlough money rolled in. I can guarantee that anyone who uses the phrase the “age of constant omni-channel communication” doesn’t have a clue about how the other half live. And if maintaining friendships feels like a second job, stop pretending you have so many friends. They are mainly fake, ditch them and keep the real ones.
The school-aged kids I know remember lockdown (the sunny one, anyway) with something close to fondness, too. Though it was tough for older teens, younger ones enjoyed walking the dog, reading and making up dance routines without worrying about what their friends were doing without them.
Once again, the kids Harriet knows are rich ones. The ones who aren’t part of the laptop class were often trapped in cramped apartments with no outside space. They struggled to complete homework due to the noise in the house and had to cope with stressed parents who had lost their jobs and couldn’t afford food. Many of these kids disappeared from the school system and still have not returned. Some were abused. Some witnessed domestic violence. Some sadly killed themselves. Many still have social anxiety to this day.
To be fair to Harriet, she tries to acknowledge the harms that happened due to lockdowns.
It’s a privilege to think this way, I know. For those who lost relatives and livelihoods, lockdown was beyond awful. It sharpened lifestyle choices to their most intolerable: loneliness among single people; the claustrophobia of house shares; the frustrated exhaustion of trying to work and parent simultaneously.
But these are just noises. If Harriet truly understood the harms caused by lockdowns, she would be too embarrassed to write her article. ‘Lockdown’ should be a dirty word that, even if people enjoyed it, should never be mentioned in a positive light again. And if you are so desperate for another lockdown, then pay for yourself to be incarcerated. Go to therapy, check in to a clinic but don’t force the rest of the world to suffer just because you can’t get your shit together.
we are all still coming to terms with what we went through in 2020 and there is a certain pressure to perform “normal” again. But I’m determined to keep hold of some of that planlessness. It is empty time, I now realise, that keeps me feeling topped up.
And this is why her article is so dangerous. Because a large percentage of the laptop class still feel like this. They can be given stats and figures showing how damaging lockdowns were until they are blue in the face and they would still crave for another lockdown. You could probably show them a starving baby, its family pushed into extreme poverty due to lockdowns and whilst they would feel sad, they would still manage to justify it somehow.
All it would take is for another crisis, any crisis, it doesn’t have to be a pandemic, and these people would feel the pangs of nostalgia return. Power hungry governments would suggest lockdowns and whilst pretending to be enraged, behind the scenes they will push for them to go ahead. Anything to avoid the commute to work. Anything to avoid another face-to-face meeting. Anything to avoid another networking event. There are too many selfish people in our society. They think the world owes them a break because they work so hard in their bullshit jobs, drinking their soy lattes. And the only way to get that break is to dump on the poor people of this world from a great height.
The Naked Emperor’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
It's especially stupid because Harriet is (I assume) an adult who can run her life however she wants. If she thinks that she's too busy post-lockdown, she could -- hear me out on this -- JUST STOP DOING SO MUCH SHIT.
I’d like for Harriet to feel what it’s like to see your dad hospitalized for Covid, suffering all alone, isolated on a ventilator, while your fully vaxxed mom is prohibited from seeing her dying husband on their 45th wedding anniversary because some faceless hospital bureaucrat doesn’t like the form of mom’s vaccine certificate. I’d like Harriet to hear mom wailing in despair as she is denied the humanity of seeing her loved one as they lie dying. Then I’d like hear Harriet talk about her nostalgia for the evil reign of lockdown terror. She disgusts me.