While the world re-adjusts to an approximation of ‘ordinary life’, we find that people who are normally concise, astute and businesslike are now as woolly-minded and fluffy as the maddest of March hares. All over the country, the cry has gone up: “I’m losing my mind!” while people strive to remember where they left the car keys, their wallets or their children. Or ponder how to spell ‘right’.. write? ..rite? ..wright?
The extremely rapid and comprehensive social disruption caused by the pandemic has resulted in a specific and unique kind of stress, which results in depression, lack of focus, memory loss, and inability to concentrate, but only if you did not already suffer from these things in the first place. Even if you did, this is now a wonderful excuse. You are no longer an absent-minded old bat, you are now a cutting-edge social phenomenon.
Scientists have deduced that this stress is caused by the mental overload of trying to function normally in an abnormal society. We can no longer take anything for granted. There is so much for us to think about at any given time, that even the simplest task becomes Herculean.
Our relationship with our cellphones is probably the most vexed. They have become so ubiquitous, so necessary, so irreplaceable, that we forget they are a device and think of them as an extra limb. Just the same way you take your ears or fingers as a given, so we do with our phones, and we become confused when they do not function the way we think they should. And because our remote lifestyle has made us so dependent on our phones, a fertile field of distraction is now manifest.
So, if you are about to join the ranks of the forehead-slappers, console yourself with the fact that you are not alone. In fact, to judge by the following examples, you are probably one of the saner ones.
I was talking to a colleague on her cellphone and I told her I would Whatsapp her the photographs she wanted. She replied, in a frustrated tone of voice: “I cannot find my phone, I don’t know where it is!” “Then… what are you talking to me on?” I enquired sweetly. And she felt as foolish as the person who used the flashlight on her phone to search for the same phone in her car.
A firefighter friend of mine told me about a woman who phoned the fire station and asked to book an appointment for a haircut. “I’m sorry, you’ve got the wrong number,” he said. “Is this the salon near the fire station?” she asked. “No, this IS the fire station,” he replied. “Oh,” she said. “Are you cutting hair in there now?”
And how many of you have burnt your ear because your phone rang while you were ironing?
Another friend told me that, while on her way to meet her husband at a restaurant, she realised she did not have her phone with her. However, her husband saw her phone on the couch at home and brought it with him. When she checked her texts, there was only one, and it was from her husband: “Don’t worry. I’m on my way, and I have your phone.”
Another traffic-related phone story concerns an elderly lady who calls her husband on his cell phone. “Please be careful,” she tells him worriedly. “I have just heard on the radio that there is a car going the wrong way on the highway.” To which he replies: “It’s not just one car, it’s all of them!”
There’s a food company that gives out frozen Christmas turkeys to retired employees as a retirement perk. All they have to do is turn up at the head office to pick them up. A few days ago, a retiree called to ask: “When do the turkeys get in?” To which the receptionist, clearly distracted, replied: “Everyone starts at eight.”
And I fell asleep on my smartphone the other day. I had downloaded a nap.
Where was I? Oh yes. Writing an article.
While the world re-adjusts to an approximation of ‘ordinary life’…..