Banana bread. Shaved heads. Joe Wicks. Tongues on toilet seats. Toilet roll keepy-uppies. An email from an online retailer you visited five years ago imploring you to ‘stay well’. In the Before Times, this list would have made as much sense as the lyrics to Joe Exotic’s ‘I Saw a Tiger’. But things have changed. I’ve changed. You’ve changed. That guy in the upstairs flat who told you he’s been fashioning a handsome cape out of handkerchiefs for his cat? He’s definitely changed. During lockdown, behaviour which once would have been as baffling as the whereabouts of Carole Baskin’s husband has become the norm. And as the days of self-confinement continue (for they must, if we wish to flatten the curve), distinct tropes have emerged…
The #Blessed One
Remember those ‘photos’ of swans gliding serenely through pure turquoise Venetian canals? They were usually captioned with ‘Wildlife is returning. Nature is beginning to heal’. The #Blessed One shared the absolute shit out of those photos, then chased that quality content with yoga selfies, nourishment bowls and handwritten gratitude lists (‘#3: Joey grew a new leaf today!!!’). This wellness warrior is using every weapon in their Lululemon tote to ward off lockdown gloom. It’s certainly not the worst way to get through a pandemic, but it is possible to overdo it. When you’re burning through lactic acid and caning burpees as the sun sets over Peckham Rye just to feel alive, you’ve strayed too far from the light.
Catchphrase: ‘I think this virus might be the universe’s way to remind us to remember what’s really important, y’know?’
While your very sensible colleague high-fives her very sensible live-in partner to celebrate alphabetising their recipe books according to author and year of publication, The Hedonist has just googled ‘What day is it?’ for the third time that day, then poured another glass of dessert wine to go with their bowl of M&S tiramisu. There’s a distinct ‘last days of Rome’ vibe in the home of The Hedonist and their cohabiting brethren. They took a little longer to absorb social-distancing measures, but now that they have, they spend their days in a bra-less, boozy haze, occasionally slipping on some cowboy boots (why not?) and venturing out into London Fields to watch the sun rise. Or set. Not sure which.
Catchphrase: ‘Surely dealers count as essential workers, right?’
Animal Crossing? Forget it. The Q1 reports are due next week and the boss needs a status report over Zoom in five. The Workaholic cares not for sourdough starters, Houseparty or which celebrity ‘Hamlet’ is now available to stream. Before lockdown, the Workaholic was the mate who’d always reply ‘Oh y’know, busy, busy!’ when asked how their week had been, but to see them like this – buffed dress shoes on in the house, lighting prepped for optimum Zoom professionalism, an ergonomic chair they Amazon Primed specially – is bordering on concerning. When they start suggesting you ‘take this offline’ during a weekend hang (also on Zoom) you know things have reached critical.
Catchphrase: ‘Can I pencil you in for 1pm? I’ve got a ten-minute break between my virtual physio appointment and my dedicated reading time.’
The Smug Couple
You know that thing where people drop the possessive pronoun when referring to their significant other? ‘Finally beat Hub at Scrabble today – he owes me a massage!’ ‘Fiancé and I are discussing whether to make gnocchi or ravioli from scratch tonight – help!’. If you do that, you’re part of a Smug Couple. And if you’ve spent a whole virtual pub trivia night with your head on your partner’s shoulder, then sorry, but you’re also part of a Smug Couple. Matching Sweaty Betty activewear = SC territory. Fostering a cat together and obsessively posting about your ‘fur baby’ = SC central. Lockdown has forced many couples to make a sudden choice on whether or not to shack up, and for some, this has gone almost too well… if you believe everything you see online. In reality, a member of a Smug Couple could be coming to the slow, agonising realisation that they’ve been dating a ‘The next step is cascading relevant information’ person this whole time.
Catchphrase: ‘Lockdown’s really not that hard when you’re with your best friend!’
The Overnight Epidemiologist
God, show pity on the unfortunate soul who says ‘It’s just like the common flu’ within hearing distance of The Overnight Epidemiologist, for they will have to endure a response so patronising and so long-winded that they’ll wish they never suggested the Zoom call. Covid-19 anxiety manifests in many ways: for some, it’s wringing your hands every time your grandad lingers a little too long in the frozen aisle in Tesco. For others, it’s dipping your hands in buckets of DIY hand sanitiser. But for others, it’s embarking on the inherently impossible quest of Knowing Everything about the times in which we find ourselves. This Icarus of the internet has soared on the wings of the Guardian live feed, Twitter and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Centre interactive world map until they are dangerously close to melting their newfound wings on the information overload sun. You can count on them for updates on Bojo’s health, hack virology facts and the correct spelling of ‘hydroxychloroquine’. But, a word of caution: OE energy is addictive, so limit your encounters to five minutes lest you join them in a world of endless scrolling.
Catchphrase: ‘How can you be live-streaming drag aerobics at a time like this?’
The Lord of Organised Fun
Early on, you embraced the pixelated wings of your group’s digital social butterfly. You applauded their enthusiasm for Houseparty, pub quizzes, Netflix Party, singalong musicals and Risk marathons. You hardly batted an eyelid when they brought out the Christmas decorations, because, why not? We could all do with a little festive cheer right now. And in this way, we’re all responsible for creating our new, heavily organised, leaders. We fear our Google Calendars will never be free from their virtual events again. There’s certainly a place for the LOF, but when the Zoom grid is burned into the inside of your eyeballs and you can’t go another bonus point round, you know it’s time to politely retreat for a day or two. No generation is immune: your mum who posted that ‘My Corona’ song on your family WhatsApp is exhibiting strong LOF energy. Okay, Zoomer.
Catchphrase: ‘Forty minutes is nearly up: new Zoom link coming at you on the WhatsApp group!’
The Victorian Homemaker
Look, I’ll say it: things actually weren’t much fun in the past. But then things aren’t much fun right now, either – which means many of us have looked to our ancestors for wholesome pursuits to pass the time. You might say that learning to bake sourdough is the gateway for becoming a Victorian Homemaker, a crafty individual whose daily highlights include perfecting their crochet stitch and taking a turn about the room. They’ve ordered 3kg of clay to hand-throw their own crockery. They’ve started sketching the wildlife they see outside of their window or on their daily walk. Of course, they’ve not gone full Victorian. Their connection to the twenty-first century remains strong thanks to the validation they receive from posting about their new lifestyle on Instagram.
Catchphrase: ‘When this is all over I’m starting a market stall.’
And let’s not forget: The NHS Hero.
We see you, we thank you. You’re all legends.
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