──Vol. 24 : THE NEW NORMAL
[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]
May 2020. The world is currently battling a coronavirus pandemic and most of the world have been confined in their homes to try and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. At the time of writing, there are over 4.5 million confirmed cases and 300,000 deaths worldwide, but we have no idea about the full extent of the damage due to lack of testing and underreporting. There are as yet no other effective methods of controlling the disease other than social distancing, and the anti-hero line-up of world leaders we have are trying anything to keep the economy running as unemployment soars, by suggesting the population inject lethal disinfectant into their bodies, sell us medicine that has no scientific proof to be safe or effective yet has side effects of birth defects, deny the disease is even a problem at alldeny the disease is even a problem at all, or track our movements through Orwellian mobile phone apps.
If there is ever a book written on the COVID-19 crisis, at this point we are still probably only living in the first chapter. Without a vaccine or herd immunization (neither of which seems likely to appear for a year or so) we’re likely to be moving in and out of lockdowns or adapting how we can live together safely for the foreseeable future. Probably by going back to work wearing plastic bottles on our heads and never touching each other again. A shitty but fascinating time to be alive as a human being on this planet for sure.
My job has fortunately allowed me to work from home where I live with my girlfriend. Two months of self-isolation, working at the kitchen table and skating alone (how to make getting kicked out even more miserable) once a week has felt like enforced self-reflection. A break from office life and endless mind-numbing booze and party weekends probably helped as well, but a once ‘normal’ internal dialogue seems pretty egocentric in hindsight once you’ve been locked in a room for a month with nothing but Netflix and books for company. I don’t think that’s unique to myself though, and everyone around me seems just as full of shit as I am, but we were definitely riding a tidal wave of unsustainable human arrogance that was bound to crash at some point anyway. Normality has been warped, and probably a lot of people are experiencing a shift in what they consider important, and that also comes along with forgiveness of other’s faults and spending less time and energy on hating on people. A month of mandatory quarantine jail time a year doesn’t seem like a bad idea to keep people’s egos in check.
The pandemic has affected us all in various ways. I think I went for the classic pattern of: denial – blame – panic – conspiracy mode – eventual acceptance. Otherwise relatively sane friends have turned full blown 5G conspiracy theorist, or have been convinced that Bill Gates (someone who has spent his whole life and fortune saving lives in the developing world) is lord Satan the virus spreader, attempting to take control the planet by implanting tracking chips in our bodies and sell us vaccines. I don’t have any proof that Bill isn’t a corona-devil, but with the evidence available it doesn’t seem very likely. Even my girlfriend had me googling ‘illuminati’ backwards at some point. We’ve also got a confirmation bias phenomenon where we all search for information on the internet that we think proves what we already believe. As there is anything you could possibly imagine written somewhere out there, we end up with people believing all kinds of weird shit, or being deliberately misled by information designed for somebody’s financial gain. A lot of things about the coronavirus doesn’t make a lot of sense at this point in time, but to believe most of the conspiracy theories out there you would have to be convinced that almost every single doctor, scientist and media out there is deceiving us. It’s amazing how science and reason can easily be brushed away to fall for a slick documentary made by some guy, or listen to a billionaire that obviously has more interest in making money than people’s safety.
Nobody knows how this will all turn out, and maybe this is just over positive naivety induced by loneliness, but it does seem for the time being at least that skateboarding is coming out victorious from this crisis. In a time when the future of team sports is in question, skateboarding stands out as a non-contact, individual sport that can be enjoyed outside in the fresh air, completely alone. Skateboarding might ironically end up being one of the safest sports out there. Huge skateparks will have to be built to allow for safe social distancing, and attitudes to street skating might have to change as it becomes so prevalent. Filming fisheye might be banned, but we will always have long lens. We also have a deeply rooted culture and will support each other to keep our industry alive even if it has to change and adapt. Skateboarding will survive.