I’ve experienced few things as thematically resonant as walking in an empty city on a rainy Sunday morning during a pandemic.
I think a major contributor to my unending sadness is the unshakable feeling that I’ve been prescient about the direction of my life for many years, and the world itself seems to support my hypothesis. Not only does it feel like nothing in my life is happening, it feels like nothing is happening in the world at all. In both spheres it seems as though progress has dwindled to an infuriatingly slow crawl. Each year innovation gets exponentially less impressive, as if we’re living on an asymptote inching towards infinity.
What has happened in the world over the past 10 years? If someone from 2011 were to be transported to 2021, would they be in a state of shock at the radical new world they’re in?
Everything looks the same. Phones are a little sleeker, and special effects in movies are a little cleaner, but both advancements can be dismissed as roughly 10% of an improvement.
We’re still sharing memes. There’s a few new apps like Tinder and Uber. But other than new ways of hooking up and getting to your hookups, how has the online world changed? The giants are YouTube, Twitter, and (a scion of) Facebook, as they were.
The same franchises are being run through the content mill in Hollywood, and music itself has become virtually nonexistent, to say nothing of new music. Culture has stagnated.
Dentist appointments take the same amount of time. Buses and trains are still perennially late.
Some blame can be placed on the worldwide pandemic, but only some. To be honest it’s kind of a natural endpoint to where everything was leading for the nine years before 2020. Not much happened, and now a lot more of “not much” is happening.
Which leads me back to my entirely unscientific, knowingly implausible and yet increasingly supported theory that my life in fact ended a few years ago and everything I’ve been experiencing are echoes and memories remixed into future events. The main feature has been over for a while, and as people are filtering out of the movie theatre during the credits there’s bloopers, outtakes, and bonus scenes playing over top an 80s ballad.
I’m not experiencing anything new, I’m experiencing sequences of my past life cobbled together into what I call “silo events”. They happen, and then they’re over without lasting consequence, because there’s not enough substance left to leave a mark on. I have absolutely no plan for anything in the future. The hefty bulk of my story has petered out and like the world at large come to a tapered end. The 80s ballad is entering the extended instrumental coda that fades out during the radio edit, and the credits are now well into support roles like gaffers, key grip, and best boy…whatever that is.
One evening in July 2012 I was walking to a concert I’d gotten free tickets to. Of course nobody wanted to go to it with me so I had to make the trek to Sound Academy by myself, as I had many times before and would many times after. It was a nice warm evening as I walked past the (still undeveloped) Port Lands, and at that moment my life was in fact in a tolerable phase. That said, my mind was still in the throes of eternal loneliness that it has been for two decades now, so obviously I was thinking sad things.
One of these sad things was about the Bad Luck Brian meme. The guy whose awkward high school photo was always paired with a phrase that amplified his misfortune to ridiculous degrees. I’d seen a few earlier that day that hit different, mostly because they effectively summed up my life. In fact, I was actually worse off than the theoretical Bad Luck Brian. “Asks 100 girls out. 101 say no.” “Gets surprise birthday party. Surprise: no one shows up.”
Luck is not something I’ve brushed up against too often in my life. In fact, here is an interesting fact about me: I am always wrong.
If someone is holding something behind their back in one of their hands, I will, without fail, guess the wrong hand. To this day I have never guessed the correct hand.
A more recent and relevant example. When I am writing out subtitles and try to recall the last sentence I heard in the video, I will, without fail, deliberate on it for 30 seconds before writing it out in the incorrect order. So if someone says “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” I will write “The quick brown dog jumps over the lazy fox”. I actually just wrote the sentence wrong just this instant and am now even more sad and frustrated that I can’t get anything right.
In nine days it is my birthday. And I know exactly what will happen. I can map out the entire day for you nine days in advance. I will wake up at 9:00, get to work on one of my weekly videos, eat breakfast at 11:00, get the video finished by 3:00, start on another one of my weekly videos at 3:00, finish at 11:00pm.
And this is what will not happen. I will not get any texts from people who have cut me out of their lives. I will not get any texts from old friends wanting to reconnect. I will not get any messages from fans of my social media posts.
In the same way, I can map out the next year, two years, five years for you. They will be a lot like my birthday, which is a lot like every other day. And this will continue on until the credits finally fade to black.
I know this because this is all I’ve ever known. I knew it would be this way in 2012. I knew it would be this way in 2001.
This is one thing I’d love to be wrong about.