Seeking Tribe #16: Coping With The Moderately Dystopic Time Machine

In Our Perspective Is Improbably Warped, we briefly explored how our perception of the world is altered and reinforced by our networks, feedback from algorithms, and media consumption choices. These forces and the wild events of the past year have given us all a lot of new information to consider as we think about what the future holds for us, our families, and our communities.

Personally, while writing has helped, I think it has been challenging to process all of this information without having novel experiences, meeting strangers, and, in general, living a life more conducive to serendipity. Living in different contexts seems critical to processing new information. Some days I barely feel like I exist outside of a digital persona.

The effect of our physical environment on our day to day experience can be easy to discount. Humans are highly adaptive (he said, during month 11 of quarantine) and we tend to filter out stimuli that doesn’t change or isn’t useful (I dug a bit more into this in Lead The Future).

During the first two months of quarantine, when I pretty much never left the house, it felt like I was riding in a moderately dystopic time machine. Each day mostly consisted of trying to navigate what the pandemic would mean for iZone and then consuming endless scrolls of tweets and takes. Back in a world where the deaths of hundreds of thousands of US citizens was a hypothetical, when people were still trying to get a grasp on what exponential growth would mean in this context. Every time I went to go into the shower I would think, “Didn’t I just do this?,” as another day had zoomed by, completely undifferentiated from the last.

Fortunately, that time machine effect waned as the sun returned and spring came to save me from, more or less, total isolation. I returned home and spent at least an hour every day out in the beautiful sunshine.

Unfortunately, I feel like the time warp effect has more or less returned as SAD has beaten me down, particularly the last few weeks. For me, this just means that I’m generally much lower energy. I feel grateful that I have good habits to help me persevere (exercise, diet, writing, and too-few long walks). In this way, many of us in Rochester are viscerally aware of the impact of our physical environment on our experience.

This is not a sob story. I’m writing this today because it has been a great day. I woke up ready to get after it and had a bunch of positive opportunities suddenly present themselves to me:

  • helped a friend identify and connect with a more lucrative market segment for his math tutoring business, after he mentioned his goal was to 3x his revenues this year
  • scheduled a call with a manager [hiring] in crypto after I publicly critiqued their comms
  • reconnected with a friend who is interested in collaborating on growing one of his businesses

The last few weeks have not been like that at all. They’ve been mostly filled with focusing on my healthy habits and doing the minimum I can to still feel like a functioning person. I’m going to be fine. You’re going to be fine. I believe in you.

But please:

  • reach out to your friends to check in on them, it’ll likely make you feel better
  • consider how your physical environment might be contributing to how you feel right now and try to make it a little nicer, ie. make a cup of herbal tea/coffee, put on your favorite up-beat album, and clean your desk/vacuum/windex that mirror; go for a walk even if it’s cold
  • try to plan something to look forward to, ie.a walk with a close friend, zoom game night, a camp fire for when the weather breaks

After months of not having not-much concrete to look forward to, I have plans to visit Houston and Austin towards of the end of March, beginning of April. I’m still finalizing what the exact dates will be but please reach out if you will be in the area and would like to try to find a time to meet up. I am so excited to see the sun again and find out if the hype is real (love to all my Texans, I hope you’re well).

This post was initially sent via Substack on February 19th, 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *