Sunday, November 15, 2020

Castle Introvert

I see a lot of articles in the press talking about the psychological damage being caused by lockdowns and isolation, but I don't personally find psychological stress to be a problem. The extent of the police state and the speed with which it was put in place are problems in my view: they make clear how precarious fundamental freedoms and democracy really are. The absence of any real popular resistance to the changes is also a problem. But just spending time at home doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it's an introvert's paradise—and I'm an extreme introvert.

I was a homebody long before the hysteria. I love to go for long walks in Paris, and I estimate that I've walked approximately 50,000 km over the course of several decades in the city. I can spend hours strolling around the city in nice weather. I like to take photos and shoot video, too. And Paris is ideal for all of this. But I also like to relax at home. I don't do bars or clubs (I don't drink), sports, theaters, concerts, parties, travel, or any such things. Restaurants can be nice but I haven't been able to afford one in many years.

How I see my apartment

It helps that I have an extremely cozy apartment. It's the archetype of a Parisian dwelling. It's small but comfortable and in good condition. It's a studio, so it is essentially one room, plus a full bathroom, and a kitchenette with a half-size fridge and a hot plate; and all of these suit me perfectly (except perhaps that I would have preferred a microwave over the hot plate). There's a mattress for sleeping, a table with the computers on it (computers being my profession and also necessary for my favorite pastimes), a chair in front of the table, and some baskets to hold personal items. The building is centrally heated, and I have a small air conditioner for occasional summer heat waves; the temperature is just right all year long. There is one small window—but I keep it closed and shuttered, since it offers only a view of the building across the street, and I hate having daylight streaming into the room to remind me of the time of day. And finally, I have a  blazing-fast fiber Internet connection. No television, radio, stereo, or clock.

Since the hysteria began, I haven't needed to go to an office, being furloughed and then laid off. I dream of working 100% at home. I was able to do this occasionally before the panic—it's easy in IT—but I'd really prefer working at home full-time. Many employers are still too old-fashioned and distrustful to go with it, however.

Were it not for the need to buy food, I could have easily remained at home continuously since the first lockdown in March. But the need to refill the pantry obligates me to go outside once a week or two. Ironically, I can't do much else, sine the Reich forbids freedom of movement and requires masks everywhere.

So no psychological stress from confinement for me. Sitting at home doesn't bother me. There are always tons of things to do on the computer. I manage to stay busy even though I don't have a television set or radio. My main worry is paying the rent, not being able to go outside.

However, physically I seem to be deteriorating. I'm totally sedentary—my only exercise is walking across the room, and going to the supermarket for a few minutes every week or two. I've lost about twenty pounds, probably in part from inactivity and in part from not being able to afford food. I can't rule out malnutrition. I also have trouble maintaining my balance; this predates the lockdown, but it seems to have considerably worsened since everyone was ordered to stay at home.

Anyway, I suppose that sitting at home must be stressful for extroverts, who would prefer to fritter their lives away partying and pub-crawling; but the biggest danger for introverts is that they might get too used to it … in a world filled with extroverts who treat introversion as a disease.

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