On August 5, 2020

Socially unacceptable

By Dom Cioffi

I remember having numerous conversations after 9/11 that highlighted the fact that no one could have ever predicted the events of that fateful day. Sure, maybe some military experts or terrorism specialists could have foreseen a few suicidal maniacs flying commercial airliners into skyscrapers, but it never entered the mind of the Average Joe.

That was certainly true for me.

Beyond the awe of watching that day unfold, I was lost in the idea that I had never considered such a heinous act being committed on innocent people. And that’s kind of shocking given the history of heinous acts that have been committed around the world.

I suppose, the same holds true for the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to March 2020, I would have never imagined that the world would or could go into a social lockdown like we have. In fact, I still have a hard time comprehending what’s happening when I step back and consider how a tiny virus has abruptly shifted the way the world functions.

I have been quarantining from home for over four months, and in that time, I have felt a radical and sometimes uncomfortable shift in my life and the lives of those around me.

Initially, I was excited about the idea of working from home. Think of the freedom! I didn’t have to commute anymore. I could run to the fridge anytime I needed. I could throw in a load of laundry in between meetings. I could even take a nap!

My company handled the transition beautifully. Everyone was set up on computers at home within days of the announcement. We got access to important servers at our offices and constant IT support when needed. We also instituted bi-weekly online video meetings so we could all stay connected.

It seemed like everything fell into place, which was shocking given how unnerving everything was beginning to feel. And besides the run on toilet paper and paper towels early on, the sense of camaraderie from everyone was uplifting.

At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone seemed genuinely connected due to the constant communication. I was sharing funny memes with coworkers and stories about the weirdness unfolding around the country. Initially, everyone seemed to be buying into the idea that we were fighting against a mutual enemy and if we all did our part, we could battle through this uncomfortable situation.

And then the social unrest began to seep in.

On more than one occasion, I saw people get irate at being told that they had to wear a mask. Tempers were flaring everywhere. And the next thing you know, there’s a nationwide meltdown on racism. That’s when the news got darker and more negative.

And that’s when I began to notice a shift in myself.

I grew tired of working from home. Not because I didn’t have a good spot to concentrate, but because I missed the human interaction that I experienced at my workplace. Videoconferencing is helpful, but certainly not a replacement.

When I stopped to think about it, I began to understand that my world had become too small and cloistered and that the derision in our country was genuinely affecting me.

Most of my day is spent in my home. I run regularly and golf after work several times a week, but I generally do these activities alone. At night, my family eats together, but then we head off to engage in our own solo endeavors. And besides the grocery store and gas station, I rarely go anywhere else.

The bottom line is that the virus has forced most people into a more solitary existence than they may typically be comfortable with. This reality has caused me to feel much less connected to the world – and I’m a guy who likes to be alone!

And, not surprisingly, I’ve genuinely missed going to the movies. For 27 years I’ve gone to the theater on a weekly basis and suddenly that has come to a screeching halt. I used to fantasize about studios sending me movies at home to review, but I now realize that the act of sitting in a theater adds to the allure of movie watching.

There’s still not much to choose from as far as new release films are concerned. The major studios are holding off on the releasing of big budget pictures in an effort to curb losses. Because of this, most of the new fare is coming from online platforms like Hulu, YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime.

This week, I opted for a YouTube selection entitled, “Quantum Apocalypse.” Given the state of the world, I thought a mass extinction event movie might cheer me up.

Unfortunately, I could tell within minutes that “Quantum Apocalypse” was going to be a hokey B-level movie at best, complete with one-dimensional characters, horrible dialogue, and inferior special effects.

You’ll likely see this one served up if you frequent YouTube. Do yourself a favor and avoid it at all costs, even if you’re pining for the end of the world.

A dismal “D” for “Quantum Apocalypse.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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