The lack of ritual is another cause of this fatigue, caused by working from home. In the name of flexibility, we lose the fixed structures of time and forms of life organization that strengthen and energize life itself. In particular, the absence of rhythm aggravated depression. Rituals create community without communication, while these days it is preferred to communicate without community. Even the ritual activities that we are inherently, like football games, concerts, going to restaurants, going to the theater, going to the movies, have all been stopped. Without the greetings, we are thrown back to ourselves. Being able to greet someone intimately makes your ego less of a burden. Social distancing has dismantled social life. It makes us tired. Other people are reduced to potential risks of spreading the virus, so physical distance must be maintained. This virus has amplified our current crises. It destroys community, which is already in a state of crisis. It alienates us from each other. It makes us even more lonely than it already is in an age where the rise of social media has reduced society and isolated us.
Culture is the first thing left in lockdown. What is culture? It’s what gives birth to community! Without it, we would end up like animals that simply want to survive. It is not the economy, but above all, it is culture, or community life, that is needed to recover from this crisis as soon as possible.
Continuous meetings via Zoom also make us tired. They turn us into zombies in the world of Zoom. They force us to look in the mirror. Looking at your own face on the screen is easily frustrating. We are constantly confronted with our own image. Ironically, this virus comes at a time when selfies are prevalent, a lifestyle that can be explained as a consequence of the narcissism in our society. The virus has pushed this narcissism to its fullest. During the pandemic, we all have to look at our faces all the time, we have created an endless type of selfie in front of the screen. That makes us tired.
Narcissism via Zoom also produces special side effects. It led to an explosion of aesthetic retouching. Distorted or blurred images on the screen make people despair by their own appearance, although if the screen’s resolution is sharp, we will suddenly notice wrinkles, bald spots, age spots, eye bags and unattractive imperfections in my skin. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, it has become a trend to search for forms of appearance editing on Google. During the lockdown, the plastic surgery industry was inundated with requests from clients looking for ways to upgrade their tired, crumpled appearance. Even people have talked about “obsession because of deformed images on Zoom”. Digital imagery has encouraged this obsession (it is an exaggerated preoccupation with the perceived defects of one’s physical appearance). This virus has fueled this optimization frenzy, the madness that has gripped us since before the pandemic, to the extreme. Here again, this virus has mirrored our own society. In the case of distortion via Zoom, this mirror is the real mirror! Pure despair over our self-image rises within us. The distortion of the image via Zoom, this sick preoccupation with our selves, also makes us tired.
The pandemic also reveals the negative side effects of the digital age. Digital communication is a very one-way, very narrow affair: no look, no body. It lacks the physical presence of others. The pandemic is certain that this inhuman form of communication will eventually become the norm. Digital communication exhausts us to the extreme. It is a form of communication without echoes, a communication that drains happiness. At a meeting via Zoom, for technical reasons, we can’t look each other in the eye. All I do is stare at the screen. The absence of other people’s eyes makes us tired. This pandemic hopes to make us realize that the physical presence of another person brings joy, that language implies physical experience, that a successful dialogue must presuppose existence of the body, that we are creatures with physical life. The rituals we lose during the pandemic also imply a physical experience. They represent the physical forms of communication that build community and, therefore, bring about happiness. Above all, they enable us to leave our ego.
In the current situation, rituals would be the antidote to this core fatigue. The physical aspect is also an inherent aspect of community. Digitization weakens community cohesion as long as it is associated with a disembodying effect. This virus has alienated us from the body itself.
Health mania, right before the pandemic, was already boiling. Now we are mainly concerned with how to survive, as if we were in a state of perpetual wartime. In this fight for survival, the question of what is a good life is not raised. We mobilize all our forces in life just to prolong life no matter what. With this pandemic, this fierce battle for survival has escalated to an unprecedented scale. The virus has turned the world into a quarantine where all life is frozen to survive.