When Work Becomes Life: A Pandemic Story

There’s no lack of thinkpieces around the lockdowns and global work from home changes taking place. But I wanted to discuss a different angle that people don’t seem to be discussing, at least publicly.

Right now the internet is flooded with screenshots of Zoom video conferences, everyone smiling, talking about their cute background images and how comfortable it is to be home. They’re talking about how they’re working more efficient than ever, how they can just roll out of bed and immediately start working. Others are saying that it’s like nothing changed. Everyone quietly implying that there’s nothing more to life than work and as long as you can be productive things are great.

Work means different things to different people. For some it’s the most important thing in their lives. For others it’s just a thing they have to do to pay the rent. For most people it’s somewhere in between. But for a small few, they might be going though a rough patch with their job, and everything but their job has been taken away from them.

I’m one of those few. Work hasn’t been great for a while. But it’s ok in general, and I get through the day knowing of all the exciting things that I have to look forward to. The concerts of some of my favorite bands coming up, going out to dinner with my girlfriend, my first trip to Europe in a couple months, going out to dance to some techno this weekend. But all of these things have been taken away from me and all that’s left is my job and a bunch of faces on Zoom saying how great things are.

I’m glad it seems most people love their job, and I’m glad things are seemingly going so well for them. I’m glad work is enough for them and they don’t appear to need other things to look forward to. But I’m guessing things aren’t what it seems and more people are taking this harder than they let on. Those faces next to yours in that conference call who are saying we can just keep on keepin’ on may just be saying what everyone wants to hear. The reality is everyone has had so much taken from them, and all that remains is Slack and Zoom.

I’m well aware that having a job right now at all is something to be thankful for, and I am indeed thankful. Businesses are closing and people don’t know what the future holds for them. Things are bad for a lot of people, and I’m trying to put my money where my mouth is by donating to places that will help support the businesses and people I care about. But that’s a topic that’s thankfully getting plenty of discussion, so I’m finding myself thinking about the people like me who are “supposed” to be ok.

So next time you login to Zoom and say it’s great that it’s business as usual, know that some people are dealing with this lockdown a bit harder than you are. They probably won’t say anything, but it’s likely one of those faces is wondering how they’re going to get through the day, the week, and the months ahead.

I hope you’re all ok.


I have more stuff you can read if you like. You might like these:

Gabe Kangas

Mar 23, 2020