One of the biggest problems created by the pandemic and lockdowns is hardly ever discussed at this stage.
We know about the economic impact: finding a job has become near impossible, going for a job interview even legally prohibited in some countries. The long-term medical effects of the disease are as yet unknown and even short-time treatment changes with every mutation we encounter.
Whole professions are under threat, from the beauty industry to hospitality and travel, from sex workers to even unexpected sectors like dentistry. The industry of much cheaper dentists for example that has sprung up across the border where I live, has come to a standstill. A former football player turned gay prostitute with whom I went to school is now working as a builder. Temporarily, for once the current project is finished, there is no new one on the horizon.
I myself am looking for a job. I quit mine just before the epidemic began to relocate to take care of my aging parents, now it turns out I cannot get a new one in the current climate. Unless I knew a programming language – a job easily done from home it turns out. Most of the jobs in my region and industry require onsite teamwork and all the job offers are from last year and currently on hold.
What we don’t discuss is the human toll of loneliness. My parents led a pretty isolated life in retirement but it turns out it was filled with lots of interactions that have since become impossible or even dangerous, from their card games at the seniors’ club to doctors visits, the friendly chat with the neighbors to weekend outings with the church. The three of us are now stuck – and have been for months – in a small apartment, and although not in financial difficulty yet, our days have become filled with isolation and frustration.
I am not the only one of course, and many are worse off. My mate in Zurich lives alone too and is getting worried about his job at the airport; my lover and friend in Malaysia, still a student in his final PhD year cannot find an internship due to corona.
There are, as of this writing, few places left where things are better, and it looks like much worse is likely to come. Life is screeching to a halt. Loneliness is encroaching. The realization is setting in that a pandemic kills not only medically, physically, but also psychologically, emotionally.
Gay men and young people in generally have relied on dating apps to meet up. That has become impossible. Chatting is nice but it’s no substitute for human contact.
It is also hard on the old and particularly hard on children, who, kept from attending school, are losing contact to their mates and the social circles that help form their personalities. Already threatened by social media and technical isolation, they are now physically isolated too. Not an easy lot to bear.
The crisis will take years to resolve itself, medically, economically, and personally. The actual scars may last much longer.