Why social media is a godsend in these trying times

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Another friend, Nelly, a natural organiser, posted a daily schedule she’d drawn up. It included designated “chore time” in return for screen time. Right down the bottom there were two bedtimes, an early one for kids who hadn’t stuck to the schedule and a later one for kids who had. Oh, how I do love to punish one by not punishing the other. It’s so deliciously effective.

It’s not all about parenting. There’s lovely Dee, who reminds us we no longer have to wear pants to work, and Michelle in Vietnam, sending us video footage of the elderly ladies in her neighbourhood sneaking out to exercise together in the street at night, when there’s no one else around. They’re keeping very large distances between themselves, but the smiles on their dials as they gently bend and stretch and flick their hands all around under the streetlights suggest it’s doing them the power of good.

And a shout out to Alycia, who ordered tampons via Uber Eats. Laura works in the arts, so her entire life has been cancelled, but she’s running a free online course in producing live theatre.

Many comedians who should be nagging their friends to come and see their shows in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (which was cancelled) are live-streaming and podcasting from their houses, just like Shakespeare did during World War II.

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Yep, I’m reading a lot of brightly coloured memes about how much other people achieved during times of great social upheaval and adversity and I’m getting a bit confused, but it’s mixing with the cabin fever in a generally positive fashion, I think.

I’m trapped inside with my children and my own mother, all of whom seem to think there will be a prize for most frivolous complaint when this is all over.

So far it’s either my daughter, who hates her life because of the lack of Pepsi Max in lockdown, or my mother, who was hospitalised with emphysema a week before lockdown, but angrily stomped off in a huff yesterday because I wouldn’t let her go to the shops for an eyebrow pencil. The shops. The large local Petri dish where people are punching on over bog roll.

In the midst of this I am surprisingly serene and, by my standards, stunningly under-medicated. I know, nobody likes a martyr, and maybe I’m high on hand sanitiser, but I’ve just given in to the chaos. It’s the only way. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but the fact is, I never did.

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Somehow, the chaos makes it easier to understand the behaviour of others, to accept the only behaviour I can control is my own and to decide what to take on board and what to let pass me by. If the Wi-Fi goes down though, it’s Mad Max time up in here.

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This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale April 5.

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