By Jenny MacInnes (she/her)
CW: brief mention of death/dying and domestic abuse
Now that we are on the road out of the pandemic with rules being taken away, restrictions becoming more lenient and, of course, the vaccine, each of us can look back over the past year or so and feel an overwhelming surge of emotions. One thing I think we can all agree on is that lockdown definitely isn’t something we wish to do again, but in a strange way
March 2020 has become an iconic time within pop culture and general history as the month the whole world “shut down”. Streets were empty, people were bulk buying toilet paper and we were having a two week break from civilization. We were all naïve to what was coming. Maybe we were intrigued by the somewhat dystopian feel to our lives. Maybe we were suppressing the unnerving feeling of coming to terms with a disease rapidly making its way around the globe. I mean, we had been making jokes about this earlier in the year, surely there was no way it could really be that serious?
But seeing pictures of Times Square completely deserted, seeing lines up the streets simply to get into the supermarket and having to sit at opposite sides of the street to have a conversation with your friend did a good job at confirming our then-current state.
So, we were going to be stuck in the house for a while. Netflix had just released Tiger King which would keep everyone entertained for a few days at least. We had just discovered Zoom, which led to Zoom quiz nights. Next, we were greeted with Instagram story tags like the 5K run – which I’m not convinced anyone actually did – and Animal Crossing re-entered everyone’s lives, hand in hand with finding comfort in old hobbies from our childhoods. Rereading Percy Jackson and rewatching Avatar the Last Airbender, it’s no wonder we feel so nostalgic for early lockdown when it embraced our nostalgia for childhood and those things that made us feel safe back then.
Lockdown reverted us back into the people we used to be, and with that it prompted a lot of self-growth. I think a significant part of the nostalgia we feel for this point in our lives is that most people experienced changes in themselves, mentally and physically. On one hand, there was a surge of optimistic self -improvement. Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to daily Chloe Ting workouts and tried out Joe Wicks’ recipes, determined to use this time away from the world to reinvent themselves and re-enter feeling more confident. But on the other hand, people used this time away from social norms to reflect on themselves as people and figure out their true identities. So maybe, in a way, we are nostalgic for the people we were when we first entered the lockdown, because for many of us they are not the same people we are now.
An unusual, but fantastic sense of community emerged. Possibly for the first time ever, the media actively sought out good news stories of neighbours helping each other out,