The year is 2020, public gatherings are outlawed, face-to-face communication has all but been erased and socialising is now confined to the home, behind closed doors. No, this is not some dystopian science fiction, thanks to the Coronavirus this is our reality, temporarily.
The art of conversation
I always felt that movies set in the future had it wrong when it came to video call technology. Why would I want to see your face when I'm talking to you on the phone? Since gaining the ability to video call my friends or family, I have had no real desire to bother. My preferred method of telecommunication has always been the text message, short and sweet. Or failing that, the classic phone call, ideally a quick one. With some friends, our short-hand phone conversations have become so advanced, to the untrained ear, you'd think we disliked each other - no hellos, no goodbyes just a series of basic directions and grunts.
Embracing the future
It's taken a pandemic for me to understand the true value of video conferencing. There is a more profound feeling of connection when seeing someone's face. Zoom, Skype and Houseparty have all been used on several occasions, and where normally I would be ashamed to admit it, I'm actually kind of enjoying myself. I find it reduces the exsistential dread and I'm chatting to people I would normally only see back in Ireland at Christmas, weddings and funerals.
There are distinct benefits to meeting your friends online. It's practically free, you don't need to leave home, you don't even need to shower. On the downside in my case - I've spent a fortune on groceries, I have barely left the house and I stink.
Alcohol is a solution
A common side effect of quarantine is overindulgence in alcohol. I try to stick to Friday and Saturday only but Thursday now feels like a Friday, the calender is a blur and the boredom is forcing my hand. A good way to mitigate the feeling that you may be developing a problem is to arrange a Zoom drinks party. I have had several boozy Zoom meetups and while not quite the pub, under the circumstances its a passable substitute. Unlike a normal party you can have people from different countries come along, and you can catch up with people who would otherwise be too busy to get out.
There are several obvious differences between the pub and Zoom. The atmosphere, the smell, and the price of a pint are difficult to replicate. Which has its upsides in the money-saving department, but it's downsides in the hangover department. The fridge door is your barman, you drink at your own pace and there is no cleansing walk home or late-night takeaway to expediate sobriety. Last week I had a piercing headache for three days and assumed I was suffering from the virus until I remembered that in an attempt to cut down on carbs, I had recently substituted gin and tonics for beer, I don't recommend. Man-boobs be damned.
With the way things are it will be a while yet before the pubs reopen. To stay sane, you have only two choices, one is to cut down on drinking which would be idiocy, and the other more-realistic option is to embrace dystopia and get hammered with your friends online.