Gift COVID gave to me

It’s feeling comfortable with not giving fuck about tribal affiliations and associated displays. It’s accepting that I’m an introvert who prefers not to socialise as a detached fact – not a value judgment. I can play the extrovert for survival (which is what the job requires). Yet even at my chattiest, the inner introvert is always in the corner Eameses lounge chair. Sober, detached, taking notes and looking at the clock – he never wears a Patek (Google it if you must).

Of late, I’ve gotten brazen. I bluntly tell people I have given up faking an interest in cricket or sport. I fizzle out, slobbering whispers to check out that chick’s ass with a blank stare and saying I’m vegetarian.

I don’t consume meat or alcohol without explanation. If queried, I say it’s for unknown personal reasons rather than piety. But, in Sri Lankan male circles, such things always trigger a pause. Even an unconscious one.

If witty levity is usable, it’s the “I don’t like animals” quip. Or a dislike for the effects of drunkenness (however mild) alcohol causes (scores points in circles who have dipped into Wilde).

They may think I’m an odd bugger. I don’t care. My silence shows it louder than a kick in the balls.

It’s behaviour from the peace of knowing I have no tight affinity group outside the family and being human – even though I move through many such groups. My links to any one of them remain distant.

It’s an unproductive mindset to bleat about.

Loud tribalism is a human default. You have to advertise your tribal affiliations for survival constantly. If it’s not cultural or political, it’s consumerist. The most basic is brand iconography. Replacing the Swastikas and LTTE logos with Tommy or the fruit is the same. The looser branding is skill colour, accents and language. Wrong branding in the wrong place will get you killed. You all know that sad madness by instinct.

In society, not identifying with tribal branding is an existential threat. It’s also a security flaw because flashing brand affinity is easy. Faking the right signals are often easy as they are unscrutinised. You attract attention when you break away from the accepted displays. Bad attention is deadly.

Yet an inner power comes from refusing to participate in the attention economy – ditching social media, blocking ads aggressively or unplugging the television forever. The biggest gain is the quietness in my head and the power to tell the voices to shut up when I want to.

The most potent effect is the introvert’s power of networking – being the quietest box in the zoom meeting or theatre of the conference room. My credibility comes from what I’ve been able to pull off. A stone-like silence (easy to pull off – look into the camera, not at the other people) gets recognition. When face to face, focus on the other person’s iris while keeping the face relaxed. Not giving a fuck helps that instinctively.

This year, in particular, it’s allowed me to get things I want in a way I never thought possible.

There is no doubt a lot of psychology behind all this. I’ve read about before the pandemic. Yet it was the change the plague brought that threw an inner mental switch. Its shocks me to think of it given the horrors the plague inflicted on others (even before the depression hit).

What inner changes has the plague caused in you?

4 thoughts on “Gift COVID gave to me

  1. Oh, plenty. I think overall, I’ve become very guarded and cautious (not just germ-wise), but even with people that now I come off as a little snob, it’s given me so much more peace of mind than I previously thought was possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is the first time I’m seeing you swear on here, C 🙂

    The plague has resulted in a lot of changes which do not fit into this comment box. Let’s meet (introvertly, quietly) and discuss over a too-sweet iced coffee when you come here next. Hope you’re well.

    Liked by 1 person

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