by Caroline Harth and Angela Fiore
So, how many of you have been productive during this pandemic? How many of you have used the multiple lockdowns we have been enduring to learn a new skill, a language, exercise, get into a new and healthy routine, the kind of thing that calls for a #blessed hashtag on Instagram? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Also, how many of you have come across inspiring posts by people claiming to have “pushed the reset button” during this pandemic, in order to start anew, to prepare themselves for a brighter and better future, as soon as we are allowed to have a future again? And how many of you have felt the need to headbutt the authors of said posts really hard?
Now, I am not saying there’s anything inherently wrong in trying to make something good out of a terrible situation. We’ve all tried to make silk purses out of pigs’ ears at times: this is just how we are programmed as human beings. Therefore, if you did have the possibility and the willpower to take a step back from your frantic life and career pursuits over the past 13 months and focus inwards, getting ready for the post-pandemic world, well done. And if you haven’t, if all you could do was hang on to sanity by the thinnest of threads, if you are sick of Zoom calls and secretly hate the sight of your children, if you struggled or lost your job because of the pandemic and if your exercise routine was snacking and binge-watching Netflix to numb yourself through escapism, once again, well done: you survived the hardest year the world has had in a long time. Pat yourself on the back and stop looking at inspiration porn that tries to make you feel bad about yourself.
“Pushing the reset button” is a privilege and we need to acknowledge that
Because it’s nice to think we can just “push a reset button” and reprogram our lives to be more fulfilling, but there is a lot to unpack in that very concept. There is inherent privilege in thinking that all you ever needed in order for your life to be “better”, was a random sabbatical during which you could act heroic just by not leaving the house. Sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes your life is not a mess because you haven’t organised it properly, but because you live in a society that denies you access to healthcare and paid leave or parental leave or unemployment benefits. Pushing a reset button and coming out of a crisis all nice and refreshed has a lot to do with white privilege, western privilege, male privilege, not-being-a-parent privilege. Why am I slamming a buzzword so hard, you might ask?
Because I would like to remind you that we live in a complex society in which most concepts are intersectional, and yet we persist in pursuing a style of communication, particularly on social media, that tries to portray this world as much simpler than it actually is. And your social media feed might just try to bully and guilt-trip you into thinking that not having been amazingly productive during a worldwide pandemic, not having pushed the “reset” button because you were struggling to meet basic needs or to stay sane and healthy makes you somehow less valid than all those #blessed people instagramming their morning yoga routine. If that’s the case, I just want you to know that it’s bullshit. That’s not your story. That’s just a popular narrative. Remember that. Remember to put your story first, to own it and to be proud of it. Flaunt it, even when it goes against the mainstream narrative. Fuck the reset button.