I write this in the second week of lockdown during the outbreak of the Coronavirus in South Africa and the globe. Currently, we are set for three weeks of lockdown, we are supposedly just over half-way, but the general sentiment and examples from abroad have proven that this will probably be extended. It is the year 2020 and I am 29 years old.

I have always maintained that “people are all that we have”. Perhaps this was also a way of soothing myself when seriously questioning my career choices and the lack of wealth it produces… “don’t worry about material things, man, in the end, it’s all about the human connection”…Since then I have had quite a few incidents of, well, rather underwhelming economic growth. Let’s just say that, much like the case for my beloved country, an economic downgrade seemed more of a reality than a threat. Given these circumstances, heck, money seemed great and people seemed expensive to hang out with.

But now, more than ever, my very flawed theory has some ring of truth to it (irrespective of the fact that both my country and I have indeed settled into junk status). Currently, we are relying on people in every possible way and form. We are relying on people to lead us in a safe and informed manner and to actively work against the spread of misinformation (governments and journalists). We are relying on people to make the right moral choice (citizens obeying the lockdown rules and curbing the spread of the virus). We are relying on people to well, not be assholes (how you conduct your toilet paper purchases – I need not say more). Even the poor grocery store teller is being looked to for the only permitted weekly real-life contact with humans. It has become quite clear that people might not be ALL that we have, but they make up a pretty large part of it.    

Our world has been turned upside down by a virus we are struggling to understand and gain control over. A large amount of messaging speaks of this virus knowing no boundaries. That both the wealthy and the poor have and will continue to suffer under its helm. Although this is true – as the virus has literally spread all over the world, infecting world leaders and residents of extremely poor communities alike – this message does not speak of the unequal manner in which the virus affects our mental health. Despite the fact that I am lucky enough to be in lockdown with loved ones, in an area with some freedom of movement and I can continue most of my work, I find it incredibly hard to continue “business as usual”. After all, there is nothing usual about this business. Everything we know and find comfort in has changed. Flip, even going to buy groceries has become a deed of brevity! Furthermore, the lockdown has caused great psychological strain on many around me. I am increasingly aware of friends, family and community members who are extremely lonely during these times. I also know that so many in my industry are completely bowled over by the implications of this virus and the economic destruction it is causing and will continue to cause. Although this is also an opportunity to get creative and envisage ways of reaching fans/users/followers/customers, it really is understandably hard to try imagining the bigger picture if you don’t know how big this picture is still going to get. When will we be allowed into rehearsal rooms to create a piece of work together? When can a film “crew” be more than one actor and someone operating a camera? When will economies recover, allowing the public the financial freedom to visit theatres and cinemas again?

Things are tough and will remain that way for quite some time. People will be most of what we have for the foreseeable future. We will have to allow ourselves to depend on others as well as be depended on. We are being required to do exactly the opposite of what our modern lifestyle has conditioned us to do: engage with others on an honest and humane level (I mean really engage beyond an Instagram like or reshare). Realise the importance your friendship might have in another’s life or reach out to others should you need to. Nothing I have said is unique or not obvious and I think it is clear what I’m trying to point out. In essence, the age-old saying applies…don’t be a doos, be lekker. If you are thinking about someone, phone them (you literally have nowhere to be).

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