Tag Archives An Opinion

The Covid19 post

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Let me start off with the “When it’s not about you, it’s not about you”-disclaimer. This disclaimer applies to all my blog posts, but considering the topic and the tone in which I am discussing it (spoiler: annoyed. Extremely annoyed), I figured it would be good to make it explicit. Here we go:

Seldom in my life have I felt so chronically annoyed at life as in the last couple of months. Every time I said to myself: “This is it, it is impossible for me to get more annoyed than I am now”, I read some news that made me want to chop the nearest object to me down the middle with a huge axe. Even if from 14 March on I had listened to nothing but Africa by Toto on repeat, I would not have been as annoyed as I am now.

Why exactly am I so annoyed, you ask? Well…

  • The way the Covid19 pandemic was completely underestimated at the beginning;
  • The, as soon as was established that this Covid thing was An Issue, constant and extremely detailed, panic-y news streams;
  • The anti-Covid measures as instated by the Dutch government, some of which SO confusing that people went: “Yeah, whatever, never mind those rules”;
  • The fact that people went: “Yeah, whatever, never mind those rules”;
  • The Dutch government going back and forth on the matter of face masks: “No face mask!”, “Wear a face mask!”, “Don’t wear a face mask!”, “Do wear a face mask!”;
  • The fact that the Dutch media think it’s perfectly normal to give a platform to a “discussion” about if we shouldn’t just let people that are fat, chronically ill, handicapped, old or a combination of any of those just die so the “healthy ones” can continue their lives as before.

    Yes, you’re reading that correctly: a “discussion”, led by some columnist or other who apparently didn’t get enough attention that week, about who can be “culled”. At a time where people who are more at risk AND WHO GENERALLY SPEAKING ARE WELL AWARE OF THAT FACT are living in terror, some person or other decides that this is the perfect moment to act like a populist amateur eugenicist, and the Dutch press is like “Cool topic! Let’s give this person a lot of time and attention!”

    Don’t get me wrong: I am 100% in favour of euthanasia, to the point of being of the opinion that if somebody is done with life, they should just be able to get it. I don’t care if it’s because they are out of treatment options, or just because they feel that their life is complete, people should at any point in their life be able to decide about themselves when it comes to life and/or death. However, I have a HUGE problem with people “suggesting” that other people, who happen to be fat, chronically ill, handicapped and/or old, but who are just fine living their lives, should just, you know, die already, because “young and healthy people” (not getting into that one) don’t feel like adapting their lives a bit for a year or so;

  • The fact that this “discussion” isn’t even the most bizarre thing the Dutch media are giving a platform to. I’m thinking of the “Covid is a conspiracy!” tin foil hat wearing folk;
  • The fact that people that I thought were ok, have turned into one of these “Covid is a conspiracy!” tin foil hat wearing folk #disappointing;
  • The whining about the wearing of face masks and how impossible it is to wear them, because they are “So awfully uncomfortable”. Do you want to know what is actually awfully uncomfortable? Having a fucking breathing tube stuck down your throat in the Intensive Care Unit.

And no, you’re not being “gagged”, not literally and unfortunately also not figuratively, because if it was, a lot less of the useless crap above would have gotten into the world.

I honestly did not have a high opinion of humanity in general (and sometimes also in particular), but even I am shocked to see the general lack of logic and critical thinking skills in people. But what shocked me most is the often total lack of empathy and complete lack of willingness to do something for somebody else. I mean, I understand that you might not want to do something to help somebody else if it’s detrimental to you. But refusing to adhere to rules that honestly aren’t even that much of a hassle to adhere to, but could help out others tremendously? Damn. Like I told TBK aka my mom: “And I thought that I had a shitty personality!”

I do understand people complaining about their current lives though, because life is kinda shit at the moment. It’s boring and stressful, days feel like weeks and months feel like days, unemployment and money worries take their toll, relationships are crumbling because people either never see each other or see each other all the time, you could get terribly ill at any moment and even die, and most of all: nobody has any clue of how long this is all going to take. This type of insecurity is killing.

Do you now have an idea how FUCKING SHIT it is to live your life this way for weeks, months, years and sometimes even forever? Because strangely enough, we as a society think it’s completely normal that there’s large groups of people for whom this is their daily lived reality. I do understand that if you’re healthy, you don’t consider what it can be like to be chronically ill and/or handicapped. That you have no clue whatsoever what the impact of chronic illness and/or a handicap can be on somebody’s life, and what that impact looks like in daily life.

But I do think that the government has a job here to inform people about these facts, and – more importantly – make sure that laws are instated to make sure that people with chronic illnesses and/or handicaps have a better quality of life when it comes to living, studies and/or jobs.

Because that is what pisses me off the most about this whole Covid-situation: for YEARS chronically ill and/or handicapped people have explained what their daily lived reality is like, what hinders them, what could be done to make life better for them. Nothing was ever possible. To work from home: no, can’t do that. To study remotely: impossible. To have the government start a campaign to get people to stop this toxic “I don’t call in sick unless I have a 40°C [104° Fahrenheit] fever”-bullshit, where people don’t take into account all the co-workers, class mates and/or complete strangers – some of whom might be immunocompromised – on public transport that they infect: nope.“Oh come on, everybody has a cough once in a while, don’t exaggerate!” Or as my 35-year old (as in: he should have known better) class mate once incredulously smoke-wafted my way: “But… you can’t die from pneumonia?” This after I told him that, yes, I had been absent, and yes, didn’t look too well, because I had nearly died of pneumonia in the weeks before. I think you got the picture by now.

Then Covid19 happened, and previously healthy people turned out to also be at risk to be struck by the virus. And all of a sudden everything was possible: work from home, study remotely, not coughing each other in the face. Even the very Dutch custom of body slamming into each other to get onto a train first stopped. I thought I’d never see the day.

And while I am of course happy that these adjustments could be made so quickly, I am also terribly, terribly angry. Because the fact that these adjustments have been made, and have been made so quickly, shows that it was never a case of “We can’t”. “We” just didn’t want to. The government and others that decide these matters just didn’t feel like it, it wasn’t a priority, it was too much of a hassle, it wasn’t profitable.

This situation clearly shows that as a society, we have a very, very long way to go when it comes to the acceptance, let alone emancipation of chronically ill and/or handicapped people. There’s still this sentiment of “Why should we want to accommodate you, you’re being a hassle, why can’t you be healthy just like anybody else?”, mixed with a bit of “You should be thankful to this society that we don’t just let you die, you burden on humanity, you”.

With those sentiments comes the concept of “beggars can’t be choosers”, that normalises the idea that as a chronically ill and/or handicapped person, you have less of a right to an enjoyable life. You should content yourself with whatever society is willing to “give”, and you are not supposed to have any ambitions regarding studies and/or (paid) work, let alone expect to be accommodated in the slightest when trying – against all odds – to achieve these ambitions.

There’s been a lot of talk about “solidarity” these days, but I still haven’t felt it. Sure, we’re all in this together to a certain extend right now. But as soon as the Covid19 pandemic is over, everything will go back to how it used to be. Everybody will immediately forget how awful this period was and return to their jobs and/or studies, and to sniffing and coughing everywhere again, because “It’s not Covid 19, so who cares?” The chronically ill and/or handicapped will see the changes that now benefit them be turned back to “normal”, because fuck them, right? I of course hope that I’m wrong, and that this pandemic will forever change the way we live, but I’m quite pessimistic about it to be honest. I hope to be proved wrong though.

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Meet up misery – How flakiness destroys social lives

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About six years ago, on a blog far, far away, I wrote a post about the unbelievably frustrating fact that some people (kept trying to) make appointments with me, to then never keep them. I hoped that me running into multiple people who exhibited this kind of behaviour within the span of one year would turn out to be a coincidence, that at some point it would stop and “Do you want to go for a drink?” would once again be an invitation to go get a drink, and not the start of a highly frustrating cycle of postponements, cancellations and reschedulings. Sadly, it was not to be. In the last 7 years, my social life has been plagued by this phenomenon, and it drives me almost nuts trying to figure out WHY.

If you’re now going “Ugh, kids these days!”, let me stop you right there. Despite thorough analysis I have not been able to identify a particular type of person who exhibits this behaviour, but what they all have in common is that they’re adults. What they also have in common is that they’re people I just met, people with whom contact, let alone friendship, is not established yet. You’d expect everyone to be on their best behaviour in this “dating” period, but apparently not.

I’m not talking about the almost obligatory “Let’s get together sometime!” conversation ender, of which everybody knows that its’s not an actual invitation to get together, but just an idiomatic expression meaning “I enjoyed the time we spent together and I wouldn’t mind running into you at some point, but we’re not actually getting together”. What I’m talking about is people actually reaching out to me to meet up, and who then don’t respond as soon as I answer “Oh, that would be fun! When and where do we meet?” Months later, usually right after I’ve totally forgotten about it, they contact me again with the exact same question, without any acknowledgement, let alone explanation or even apology as to why they never responded to my reply months ago. And as soon as I reply again, I don’t hear back from them. I’ve had a couple of people repeat this maddening behaviour for literal years. Come to think of it, they’re probably still messaging me every so often. I just don’t receive their messages as after about 3 years of this nonsense, I blocked their numbers.

If you thought this was bad, there’s worse: the people who actually DO make an appointment with me at a certain date, time and location, but who then go on to repeatedly cancel and/or reschedule this appointment, more often than not using some weak excuse. Some of them even completely forget that we had an appointment at all, and just don’t show up. A couple of months later however, again without any acknowledgement of anything that transpired before, they’re back with a new “Let’s hang!” message. Which leads to a new appointment. That they again don’t keep. For the life of me, I can’t understand why so many people nowadays keep behaving in this bizarre, and dare I say it – extremely rude manner.

I know I’m old and that the days that I could set up an appointment with a pen pal to meet up at Amsterdam Central station 6 weeks later and we would both just be there without confirming and reconfirming 10 times, are over. And of course somebody’s bound to say something along the lines of “You shouldn’t have too many expectations of others”. To which I always respond “Why not?”, because I really hate this whole disaffected “I don’t really care about anything, so nobody can disappoint me” cool girl thing. Besides, as I also wrote in 2014: “Since when is expecting somebody to keep an appointment THEY initiated considered “expecting too much”? Should I, when somebody proposes to meet up on Tuesday at 12, immediately assume that this appointment isn’t going to take place? How does this make any sense?”

Sadly, I have to admit that nowadays, after 6 years of this nonsense, I indeed immediately assume that these appointments aren’t going to happen. I absolutely hate that it’s come to this, as it’s not how I want to live my life, but apparently there’s a limit to the enthusiasm I can muster for what have more often than not turned out to be false promises from people who are continuously pretty careless with other people’s time and feelings.

Considering this tweet


(credit: @EmilyMcWinter)

apparently this dynamic is a thing not only I experience. I have in the past reached the “actually hang” and “say we should do it more often” steps, and I of course almost reached the “die” one, but more about that next month. My interactions with other people nowadays stop at step 6 and then loop right back to step 1. Repeat ad infinitum.

Despite knowing that it isn’t personal, I have spent the last 6 years wondering why these people persist in asking me if I want to hang out with them, when it seems from their follow up behaviour that they aren’t particularly interested in meeting up with me. I just don’t understand: why would you initiate an appointment with somebody, if you’re not actually going to follow through on it? WHY? In 2014 I stated that it was particularly strange that they couldn’t keep an appointment with me, as they did manage to show up at work, their studies, their hairdresser or their doctor. I figured that in those cases there might have been a financial motive at play: hairdressers and doctors send invoices for no shows. These days, my sources tell me that even hairdressers and doctors suffer from getting stood up all the time. And that while they do send the no show invoices in an effort to recuperate their losses, most of these invoices don’t get paid either.

Apparently, there’s stuff happening in the world that causes this huge spike in flakiness. Having studied philosophy for a minute or two, I of course have a theory. Assuming that these people actually want to hang out with me, and that they’re not aiming to jerk me around and waste my time on purpose, I suspect it’s (a combination of) one of the following things:

  • The internet. Smart phones and social media have changed the way we relate to each other. Everybody is available and within reach all the time, but at the same time, not wanting to interact, deal, or even see somebody has also never been easier: you just close their profile. That this profile is just the avatar of a real live human being, with its own thoughts, wishes, dreams, and feelings is apparently a thing that some people forget. If they ever realised it in the first place;
  • FOMO (fear of missing out). Sure, they want to hang out with me, but they keep all their options open, and then a “better” opportunity to hang out comes along;
  • Lack of planning skills. They book two appointments at the same time because they forgot they already had an appointment, they book too many appointments in too short a period, stuff
    like that;
  • Overcommitting their time. They want to do (way) more than they can, either because they’re stoked on life, or because they overestimate their time, their energy, and how much they can take on;
  • Not having their life in order. Their life is in such a state of disarray, that they go from one crisis to the next. When they’re in that “You do what you got to do to survive”-mode, the rest falls by the wayside, which is understandable;
  • Depression. Similarly, when somebody is so miserable that they can’t get off that kitchen floor, I completely understand that they just make up some half baked excuse, because they sure as hell are not going to tell a person they hardly know what’s actually going on. I get this completely;
  • Not caring enough. This is the controversial one. Nobody likes to admit to themselves, let alone to somebody else, that they just don’t care enough about something or somebody, that they’re just not interested enough. Especially when somebody has been nothing but nice to you, or you feel a social obligation to hang out with them, it can be difficult to admit to yourself that, deep down inside, you don’t actually want to hang out with them. An old colleague of mine used to always say: “If people are REALLY interested in meeting up, they will find the time. It’s like when you’re in love: you even manage to call them during a quick change (= a super fast costume change during a dance performance)”. And he was right.

Except for the influence of (anti)social media and the FOMO (go be a hipster somewhere else), I do have some understanding for all the other reasons. I myself have had to admit to myself that, despite feeling bad about it, I indeed did not care enough to keep certain interpersonal relationships going. My life has not always been easy, which is an understatement, I know how hard it can be, and that things don’t always end up the way you hoped or planned.

However, as an adult (because again, none of the people displaying this absurd behaviour were teenagers) you are responsible for your own life and for how you treat other people. At some point, you have to have acquire some insight into the type of person you are, and into what you can(‘t) realistically expect from yourself. At some point, you have to wake up to the fact that you, even if you didn’t mean to, have been stringing certain people along for years, and that you keep making promises that you – for whatever reason – can’t keep. At some point, you have to stop doing this. Because all things aside, at the end of the day, it’s just a really shitty way of treating people.

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Anti-bucket list

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While doing my Year Compass, I at one point started to freak out because “There’s still SO MUCH I need to do!!!” Freaking out like this is not new to me, it of course ties in with everything I wrote about last week. Let’s just call it a hard habit to break. At some point, I decided to write an anti-bucket list, a list of things that I at least didn’t have to do. And while I’m afraid that I’m the only person who thinks my list is hilarious, I’ll post it anyway.

The top 12 things that I, LP, will not be doing in the coming year:

  1. Backpacking (because a top three nightmare way to travel);
  2. Camping, not even to Texel (a Dutch island I’ve been wanting to visit for 33 year, but not in a tent. No tents ever);
  3. Start a housing corporation (because oh boy drama);
  4. Become friends with my upstairs neighbour of 20 years (because [redacted due to mean – ed.]);
  5. Skydive, bungee jump, climb the Kilimanjaro or stand on anything higher than an IKEA Bekväm (because fear of hights):
  6. Go to Nijmegen (because me and Nijmegen, we don’t vibe – Oh, unless the Zooz do a club show there, then I’ll reconsider);
  7. Listen to Africa by Toto (never again!);
  8. Buy Maison Martin Margiela tabi boots (because leather and also costing 2 – 3 times my rent);
  9. Get an extra cat (because Willa is the best cat ever);
  10. Walk in stilletto heels (because still limping around with a cane, more on that next week);
  11. Participate in stupid challenges where you blindfold yourself and do the Kiki dance next to a driving car on the high way or whatever the challenge du jour is (needs no explanation);
  12. And especially for the people who’ve been following me for a long long time: I also won’t be going to Lowlands this year. Like every year.

And because no utterance on the internet is complete without a call to action: dear reader, what will you NOT be doing this year? I am actually really curious!

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