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*Freelance Traveller

The Electronic Fan-Supported Traveller® Resource

#47: Lockdown Breakdown

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2020 issue.

All over the world hundreds of million if not billions are going through what’s already become a cliché to call ‘unprecedented times’. Many are in lockdown of varying severity as governments attempt to manage the effects of coronavirus on populations and health services. Some countries are under very strict limits, others under more advisory instructions; some are getting clear advice, others seem to have leaders for whom the term ‘mixed messaging’ was invented.

Not everyone is in lockdown. In some far flung countries the reality hasn’t hit home yet or the virus hasn’t arrived and life goes on as normal. In other extremely dense populations the logistics of any kind of real social distancing are simply impossible. In yet other places, while the vast majority get on with life as best they can under the new conditions, there are those who ignore the new rules because somehow they’re immune, have their own pet excuse to flout them, think it’s a hoax or don’t believe it’s worth it.

I thought an enforced period of working from home and limits on going out might mean a chance to catch up. To catch up on work projects, email and reading; to catch up on household chores; to catch up on Traveller ‘works in progress’. How wrong I was! There was initial shock of the whole situation and the stress, anxiety and even grief that it engendered. There’s the additional logistics of food purchasing, fitting in the ‘permitted’ exercise, or trying to help neighbours self-isolating. There was the huge uptick in work, church and family ‘keeping in touch’. I’ve never felt so plugged in, joined up, switched on, connected, socialised, and generally in the loop.

All this is extremely exhausting. Two weeks before everyone else started saying the same thing on Twitter I was pointing out how tiring Zoom meetings are. You lose the travel to the meeting, but concentration levels rise and techstress increases.

Others who know me may ask what the difference is? I hardly have a social life in any case. Evenings out are reduced to once a month (book group alternating with The Traveller Adventure), church is now just once at the weekend, I’ve given up a weekly ‘housegroup’ meeting which goes on well past my bedtime. But even I have limits on how much I love being at home. Especially as an enforced thing. Somehow, it’s easier to be cooped up when I could go out, even if I don’t!

What’s the relevance to Traveller? The TML has been having interesting discussions on how the Third Imperium might deal with virus transmission. Or not. There’s the obvious connection that TNE made Virus its central “thing” for better or worse. There’s the oft-made observation that a week in Jumpspace is not a trivial undertaking – especially when there’s no outside view or world to connect with. As ever, real life adds grist to the Referee’s mill and if you do have a spare moment or two, it’s definitely worth taking notes!