OK, you’re not the only dullard. Even I am now boring myself hourly despite the fact that ever since I started talking to myself, I discovered that I was the most scintillating conversationalist ever.
Just look what has happened to conversation. At home, due to the uninterrupted proximity and ingrown interaction with your closest and dearest, language has been transcended and in some cases has practically disappeared with communication reduced to nods and grunts.
On the other hand, there have been some instances of linguistic development with the three-year-olds in your household slipping out the darnedest, age-inappropriate things like “hand sanitizer” and bragging about wearing their “maskers.”
Your hermit-like existence may well have been extended by your being so cautious, too fearful even to go to the supermarket. Instead, you were living on a diet of bread made from ground acorns and turnips you had stored since the fall in your root cellar. Weren’t you smart to keep alive the pioneer spirit and still have a root cellar!
Then, when you made a timid attempt to interact with the outside world and have food delivered to your door, instead of fresh vegetables, you got a substitute— canned lima beans and corned beef hash. Execrable!
Perhaps you’ve expanded your communication with your fellow human beings via Zoom, Skype, or the myriad other screen-to-screen media. But isn’t it a little weird functioning in a two-dimensional world? At least you don’t have to worry about declining depth perception. But what’s there to talk about to your Zoom companions?
The weather? “Sure is hot today.” (How’s that for excitement.)
The garden? “Tomatoes are still green but starting to turn.” (No one really cares about your tomatoes.)
Solitary activities? “Took a really good walk this morning. (So what.)
Solitary Sports? “I played a round of golf today?” (Even before the plague, no one cared.)
To those still employed, both of you, there is still the option of being interactive and productive in a two-dimensional Zoomy kind of way.
Those unemployed and desperate for face-to-face human interaction can also dip into Zoom-world and meet with people who used to be their friends. But inevitably the conversation turns to discussions of President Liar J. Liar and since your solitary confinement has already left you depressed, who needs to be pushed over the edge chatting about the latest presidential outrage?
Even staring online at those incredibly clever memes mocking Pres. L.J. Liar tends to decline as a diversion since by now you’ve already seen all of them—multiple times. And besides, by now, no matter how clever the gags are, they just are no longer funny. It’s sort of like hearing jokes about a mass murderer—sort of.
Then, there’s the most pathetic online refuge: games. While playing hearts, bridge and even solitaire on-screen are intellectually enriching, it doesn’t really provide much to talk about. What are you going to say, “I had a really good solitaire hand yesterday”?
If you have been seduced into playing video games, that’s not something you want to talk about unless you are a small child. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing to admit that you play hours or even minutes of Candy Crush or Call of Duty, no matter how addicted you might be. And, yes, it’s best to keep your X-Box antics to yourself.
Are there any further resources to rescue you from the dullard you’ve become? Staring at the wall is clearly counter-productive. Speculation about your next meal, “Gee, I wonder what I’ll have for lunch,” is equally ineffective. In your desperate search for new experiences, you could set out a chair and wait for garbage pick-up or the recycling truck. Although it involves only distant person-to-person interaction (you can wave), at least it puts a spark into one day a week, and it gives you something to look forward to.
With no one out there, have you considered turning inward? In the words of Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living” However, after all these months of minimal stimuli and maximum inactivity, do you have anything to examine?
The late, great deadpan comedian, Jackie Vernon (Who? Check out YouTube), staple of 1950s television variety shows had a routine that began, “I used to be a dull person.” He made a living with that line. Can you do the same? With no new experiences and limited social interaction, can you even tell how dull you’ve become?
Fortunately, NJ is not one of those retrograde states where barflies, religious fanatics, Second Amendment maniacs and anti-vaxxers thumb their noses at the Grim Reaper. Yes, better to be dull than dead.
Robin Schore lives in Hopewell Borough.