Lockdown: a game of Freeze Dance

My locality gleefully announced recently that they are granting us phase 1 reopening where non-essential businesses (prevented from operating) are not able to operate but only by appointment or with pickup or delivery. In this phases, any gathering of more than 10 people still remains prohibited. While it is described as a reopening, they added a new restriction by making face masks mandatory in public buildings (such as stores) when previously it was just recommended. A small price to pay for the granting of at least the possibility of getting a professional hair cut.

Personally, this change has no effect. I remain in phase 0. My habit for shopping or getting services is to walk-in and wait. I do not make appointments if I can avoid it. Also, if I’m shopping, I like to take my time, and not have to pay attention to the slow suffocation and accumulating rebreathing my own breath that encourages me to rush. Mask wearing works for the drug store or grocery store because I know what I want and where I can find it, thus I know the trip will be quick.

Sadly, I will not be patronizing any small businesses (my preference is to shop small). My hair will continue to grow out. It’s now just at the edge of being able to form a tail. I’ll be reusing last summer’s clothes even though they do not fit let alone be of a style I’d like to have this year.

In two weeks, there will be another phase change by government. I am pretty sure they will either go back to phase 0, or they will go to phase 2 with additional restrictions that nullify whatever liberties that phase grants. In one form or another I’ll be in phase 0 for the remainder of this calendar year. In fact, I think it will get worse than 0 when they start to roll out contact tracing where they’ll force me to never leave my house due to some accusation that I was close to someone who tested positive (even if they did not really have it).

When this situation first started in March, I anticipated the possibility of having to isolate in my home for a month. I went out and bought some foods with expiration dates of around June. Now that June is approaching, I decided to start using that food instead of getting something fresh as I normally do. I hate seeing food to go waste, and sometimes treat my digestion system as a garbage disposer, eating only for the sake of not dumping it out.

In this particular case, it was one of those vacuum sealed packages of sliced lunch meat. I opened it and became suspicious of the look and smell. This is the first time I used this brand so I don’t know if this is normal or not. My suspicion was that is was not normal. I overcame my urge against waste, and decided to just throw it out.

From now on, I’m going to act recklessly and only stock fresh stuff. If they compel me to self-isolate, I’ll go on a hunger strike. We can survive about a month without food. I always was curious about what I would look like if I had a BMI of below 18. I know it would be hilarious given that I’ll have to continue to use my current wardrobe when I do get released from self-isolation.

The story about the prepackaged lunch meat is a metaphor of the lock down in general. We expect that the package will not be harmed by waiting.

I have always complained about the disproportionate impact of the lock down on different age groups. Generally, the primary beneficiaries of the lock down are the older generations, most of whom are retired, and most of those have lives that are already close to lock down conditions in the first place. For those older people, the lock down gives plenty of benefits with hardly any inconveniences.

Younger generations, whether they are in middle of careers and family-rearing, or they are just getting started, or they are just growing up, have a different experience. For them, the lock down provides no direct benefit for them and their dependents, although there is some benefit of avoiding heartbreak of losing their elders. In exchange for nearly nothing to gain, they have to sacrifice more.

  • They have to give up more active lives and many of the leisure opportunities involved with social gatherings of some type.
  • They have to give up age-unique opportunities that will not be available when they are older. An obvious example are athletes not being able to train or to compete at the prime times of their lives. There are similar examples in just about every profession.
  • The youngest generation has to lose out on the unique and valuable experiences of schooling whether that is in education or in the building of social skills, of social networks of friends, and of reputations.
  • The older of these generations will have to stay in the position they were in at the start of the lockdown, perhaps indefinitely. They are denied the mobility to find advancing jobs, and they are denied the advancement opportunities within their own employment.

The freeze dance game is an analogy of what lock down subjects to young people. In that game, someone plays music that everyone enjoys dancing to. When everyone starts getting well into their dancing, someone stops the music and everyone must freeze in their position. Anyone who continues to move is taken out of the game, even if that movement involves catching ones balance.

This is exactly what distinguishes the younger generation who mostly are not at risk of this diseases from the oldest generations who are at risk. The older generations are no longer dancing, or at least not dancing to the extent of leaving them in precarious positions. When the lock down starts (just like when the music stops), it is the young people who are dancing the wildest and either will be penalized or possibly even fall and hurt themselves. Metaphorically, the oldest generations are not moving as much, if they are paying attention to the metaphorical music at all.

I am extremely frustrated by the government’s failure to recognize that this trade off exists. We really do have to choose between two bad things. One bad thing is losing life of the oldest generation whose prime of life has already past. The other band thing is to sacrifice the younger generations by denying them the opportunities suitable for their ages. Both outcomes of loss are equal, despite what certain government-types have insisted.

We are demanding huge sacrifices from the younger generation, even if they convince themselves otherwise. Aging is an inevitable fact of living. There are things that are optimally done at specific ages, if not only possible at those ages. Again I refer to the examples in training top athletes that need to start from a young age and not be interrupted until the top competition.

A more mundane example involves a child’s learning how to draw the alphabet or do basic arithmetic (do they still do this?). I recall my own childhood of learning to draw letters on those large ruled lines with center lines to align the letters. At that time there were no computers and the expectation is that I would need to hand write manuscripts at least in their draft form. I imagine what would have happened midway through the first year of learning this skill, when we would be told school would be suspended for a year of more. Coming back afterwards, I probably would have had to start over, and I bet it would have been more difficult to train my coordination to be at least legible. Interrupted at the right time, the student may never be able to achieve excellence in this skills (consistent and smooth lettering).

We know there is a narrow window of time when it is easiest to develop language and communication skills. During this time, a child is able to quickly pick up multiple languages with far less effort than needed when attempted later in life. Introducing the lock down of education (and particularly access to professional teachers) at this time could forever deny that study the level of excellence he otherwise might have achieved.

We are asking the young to sacrifice a lot for this lock down. If the lock down ever does end, the younger generations will be developmentally crippled. This crippling will affect everyone, including the surviving elderly, because we will have a less capable generation doing most of the hard work of keeping things working.

Currently, I am working in a teleworking arrangement where I can do my work from my home. While this appears to be working out well for my employer as well as myself, I am always aware at how unchanging this arrangement is. I could continue doing this until retirement, but what I would be doing would be nearly identical to what I was doing at the start of the lock down. I may be comfortable with this now, but it pains me to think of what would have happened in my life if this had occurred 30 years earlier. I would have been frozen in that job and the tasks it demanded indefinitely with no real option to change it: I could not get personal mentoring to advance within the organization, and I could not seek jobs elsewhere especially if it required in person interviews or distant travel. Even if interviews were possible, it would be behind masks, six-foot separation, and no shared lunch to discuss more personal topics.

I don’t think the lock down will ever end. We have now set the standard that anything contagious with this level of mortality requires this kind of response. Similar contagions occur every decade or so.

Each time, we will turn off the music that the younger generation will dance to, and they’ll have to freeze or be disqualified if they continue to move. Even in the freeze dance game, starting up the music where it left off does not cause the dancers to continue to move they way they were before. They will stumble and readjust until they finally get back into the dance, and even then the enjoyment of the dance is nothing like the enjoyment if the dance never was interrupted.

If this had happened 30 years ago, I would be stunted forever in the role I had when the government stopped the music.

I would still believe in dark data.

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