The Sensory Deprivation of Lockdown
Our senses are starved. They lie dormant, waiting for the reopening.
It is nearly a year now, though time no longer passes with any structure. Each day is the same, weekends bleed into weeks, days into months, the seasons blur into each other.
There are three categories of people in lockdown: couples without children, couples with children, and single people. The couples without children have learned languages, watched box sets, and made sourdough bread. They’ve gone for long walks, played board games, argued, and made love. The couples with children have been running exclusive boarding schools: being parents, teachers, playmates, nannies, and cooks. The single people have been trapped in a massive sociology experiment to see what happens if you lock someone in their home for months on end. They are on Zoom drinks, chat apps, fantasy swiping on Tinder, pacing, walking, learning about themselves.
A life normally rich in texture and color is smoothed out into monotone sackcloth.
There are, of course, the subcategories; those who have been able to work from home, and those who have to go out to work. Some have found it frustrating and boring, others have been forced to take daily risks, or had to contend with genuinely traumatic experiences.
For everyone, a great struggle in lockdown has been sensory deprivation. A life normally rich in texture and color is smoothed out into monotone sackcloth. The interactions have gone. Even when we can meet we don’t shake hands, kiss, hug; we close in on ourselves, trapped in our own personal space. We crave contact, imagine reaching out and touching, but then restrain ourselves, suppressing even our most innocent desires.
But beyond the human interaction, the layers of sensory stimulation have just evaporated from our lives. The noises that formed the backdrop of our days and nights are silenced; the city no longer hums. There were so many noises we never even noticed, but now without them, something is missing, even if we cannot define it. The sound of a late-night party, of drunk people walking home in the dark, laughing, singing. Airplanes, cars, traffic jams. The noise of a summer street in town…