Nov 13, 2021Liked by Ethan Strauss

I graduated college in May 2020. Now I’m finally about to live the dream and join the Army as an officer soon, so that’s exciting. I’ve definitely come to appreciate the close friends I still have, but those “weak-tie” friends aren’t around like they once were (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/01/pandemic-goodbye-casual-friends/617839/). The events of the past two years also turned me from a disaffected liberal into a full-on conservative, even though I can’t stand the GOP’s current love for conspiracy theories about the vaccine and the 2020 election. I’ve had more time to read for pleasure and study my faith.

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Nov 14, 2021Liked by Ethan Strauss

Physically: I'm in the best shape of my life somehow. Oh, and I live on a different continent now.

Mentally: I don't even know, man. Everything's weird all the time.

Emotionally: Semi-constantly rattled.

Professionally: I can't work at the moment due to the whole new-continent thing (see above), but the freelance work I'm scraping together is giving me life. Hoping I can scoop up some more of that and avoid having to ever work in an office again.

Politically: I went into the pandemic as a pretty dependable leftie. I'm coming out of it as someone who says things like: "I don't have politics, man. I have *values.*"

Basically, I've spent two years just kinda making life up as I go and hoping the pieces fall back into something recognizable.


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I think the pandemic has been a disaster for the fabric of American civic life - churches, school communities, organized youth sports and arts, small charities. Friend and family groups roll on, and large companies have willed their way to something new. But it feels like all the troubling “Bowling Alone” trends have accelerated and especially in smaller cities and towns. It is harder to build friendships and our acquaintances are more limited. The boomers are (finally) leaving corporate and civic life and us younger folks are not prepared or inclined to step in the breach. I hope when Covid finally passes on there will be a new energy in reaching out and being with our neighbors.

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Probably shaved a few years off my life with stress. Lost like 40% of my company’s revenue in the early months. Had to get really creative finding ways to make payroll. My industry has really hard to find talent regardless of the current worker shortage, so I knew furloughs would lead to people leaving and when/if we were busy again being screwed. That all worked out fine in the end but it sucked.

Aside from the mental scars due to anxiety, stress, isolation, anger, etc - been a lot of the same old middle class stories. Hoping child care will stay open and safe. Catching up on every terrible tv option.

My main coping mechanism has been acquiring/fixing/modifying guitars. I was always into that but have gone overboard.

Mostly I’ve spent my time being disappointed in everything.

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Other than the mental and emotional toll I feel like I care about different things now. Things that were so important to me pre pandemic seem frivolous and pointless to care about now when any minute everything can just grind to a halt. I would of always considered myself to be more left leaning politically but have found the left to be so unbelievably annoying during the whole pandemic that’s it’s turned me off them a bit.

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Honestly, pretty terrible. Ive worked in retail for 18 years and am cursed to be a retail manager for the rest of my life. Actually reading all of these other comments reminds me how depressing it is compared to most peoples “i work at home and see my family more” new lives. Ive worked more hours trying to run a business that changes every couple months and has fluctuated between having no business and laying people off, and 6 months later posting record sales and navigating a staffing crisis. I wear a mask for 10 strait hours and interact with thousands of people a day. This week 1/3 of my staff had to go into isolation after being exposed to a coworker with covid and i had to reduce my store hours to half. My wife works at a grocery store so she also gets to witness customers micro aggressions over stock issues for endless hours. My daughter was in kindergarten when covid first hit so has no idea what real school looks like and it had taken everything we have to keep her education on track. My son is in 6th grade and has autism and requires a full time aid so basically has received no education while Oregon kept students out of schools for a year in a half because he wont sit in front of a computer all day. As i ponder if i can even think of a single good thing that has changed during covid i literally can only think of that 3 months last year where there was no traffic on I-5 because everyone was working from home.

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On a personal level. Our life is much better. Prices dropped dramatically and my wife and me bought a small apartment near the beach.

Gotten a lot healthier.

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My life is better in most ways. I’m fully remote, so no more commuting into NYC from Long Island. That means I get to have breakfast with my kids and get them off to school, take breaks during the day to play with the ones too young for school, and have dinner with them every night. I didn’t get to do any of that pre-pandemic. I just came home and put them to bed, basically.

More, while I loved the city when I lived there, I learned to hate it over the last six years of commuting into Penn Station. Simply not being there counts as a lifestyle improvement. If I never set foot in Manhattan again in my life I will be overjoyed.

We have more money than we used to, and again, a real part of that is recovering the expenses of commuting. $300 a month for the train, 10 bucks a day for breakfast and coffee, 20 for lunch; even the money saved from not going out for drinks with colleagues after work adds up.

They’ll want us back in at some point, though that “point” keeps getting pushed back since nobody wants to do it. But even then I suspect it’ll be two or three days a week at first but will quickly dissolve to one day. Hell, there are people on my team who MOVED AWAY in the last two years. They’re neither going to make them come in nor fire them. The point is even if I go in there isn’t really going to be a lot of people there.

So yeah, for now things are pretty good. It won’t last - if they can pay us NY salaries to work from home, they can pay West Virginians WV salaries to do the same - so I’m looking for a new job.

But overall my wife and I were in a very lucky place when this hit. I’m a lawyer for Megacorp Inc, which did well during the pandemic, and I work a job that can be done entirely remotely. My wife is a schoolteacher on parental leave from a sweet union gig. And the cherry is that while NYC and US pandemic restrictions turned me into a full-time remote worker, Long Island is much more relaxed. We’ve been open for business for awhile now - I took my kids to a lot of minor league baseball games this year - so I haven’t really “felt” locked down for eighteen months or so. I’m not even sure what the rules around here actually are.

So! Happy.

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My wife and I had our first child which keeps our nightlife options very limited. Plus we aren’t vaccinated so we avoid SF all together nowadays. Work is now permanently remote and I get to witness our little boy’s every development.

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A lot less travel. Spending the weekend in another European country was routine for me, as easy as trying out a new restaurant. Now I mostly stay home or visit the country next door. Not worth fighting all the various COVID restrictions.

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Mine is much better. I work from home 80 percent of the time so I have breakfast lunch and dinner with my kid. Found a far far better work life balance.

Much less socialising but I've young kids so who has time for that anyway. I'm a much better husband and dad than before the pandemic and still getting my job done.

Loads more savings in the bank from no commuting and less socialising. All in all life is so much better I can't believe I ever worked so hard, so long and out work first before.

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It's been up and down. It's a lot harder to get together with friends. A couple good friends are immunocompromised, so I haven't really gotten to see them in person. On the other side, we have added online ways to interact, which has expanded what we can do to hang out. The biggest positive for me has been working from home. I enjoyed interacting with people in an office setting and do miss it, but the flexibility of working from home is amazing. I get to sleep more, eat healthier, and take more time for myself. Also, it removes restrictions for how far away from work that I can live. Overall, things have been okay and I'm still enjoying life, but it saddens me to see some people stuck because of their fear of Covid.

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I’ve been able to move countries and still keep my job. Would have never happened pre-Covid. Haven’t been in an office now in nearly 2 years. Im listening to podcasts less because I’m not on the London tube anymore. Work life balance was shot for quite a while with working from home but has stabilised. If anything the pandemic has had the worse impact on my two year old son who has missed out on the life experiences you’d expect to have at his age. Im not going out as much to museums, events and random day trips. I was an avid sports goer but will keep that to the minimum due to gross ticket prices. Interestingly and somewhat amusingly, I found myself being more left leaning than ever at pandemic peak but have returned to my center-left ways recently (at least according to what we’d classify in Australia politics terms - US politics too extreme and over the top for me).

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I live alone and lived a mostly solitary life even before the pandemic but I'm less likely to spend time out than ever before. I don't really go out to eat or spend time at other folks homes. It not that I'm afraid but maybe during the shutdown I've learned to entertain myself and it feels weird to not being doing what I want at all times. Like pretty much all day, except when sleeping or work, I've got a podcast or youtube video playing. I'm pretty concerned that I have become addicted to having info pumped into my brain at every moment.

The movie theatre business has returned in a lot of ways but there are still lots of guests that haven't returned and I worry(probably more than I should) that we won't get back to profit before the company starts cutting the unprofitable parts. I never thought about that kind of thing before covid.

My worst habits and natures have become even more exaggerated during the pandemic. Unlearning them and them and making positive changes will be very difficult.

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Setting aside the stresses and worldwide impact, the long term effect in my household has been really positive! I’m no longer out of the house 10-12 hours a day so I’m able to spend a lot more time with daughter. My stress and anxiety baseline has gone down, and I’ve been able to stay disciplined with routine exercise. I recognize that this is a fairly privileged position because my work lends itself to adapting to remote meetings, and I definitely hope it stays this way. Like many things in this era, the benefits of disruptive change are not evenly distributed.

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Top three differences:

1. We moved from Chicago (in the city) to Kansas City (in the suburbs), at least 1/2 because we felt soooo cooped up plus many of the things that made the city amazing were gone.

2. Half of my company is in India, and I'd travel there each year (and some vice versa), but not since then.

3. Remote meetings have become completely normalized. It's easy to complain about, but actually pretty great.

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Perth, Australia here. Many of my international friends have suffered greatly, and funerals were happening on a weekly basis for some of them. I know there will be some horror stories here so I thought I'd present the other side of the coin. I think we have had the lightest of all loads to bear during this whole pandemic. We've been at zero cases due to border closures for the best part of 18 months. The Nullarbor forms a natural 2000km barrier to border hoppers from eastern states, so we've been on an island, on an island. Two biggest changes for me:

- Not meeting in person at my usual place of worship since it started (replaced by Zoom early March 2020). While there were some positives ro meeting online, nothing beats being with your community and friends on a weekly basis.

- Government stimulus into the building industry caused absolute chaos. Grants were given for people to build new homes, so every man and his cat signed up and created the mother of all bottle-necks. A service I provide went from a standard 3-4 day turnaround to 3-4 months. You could say a good problem to have considering many others have lost work, though the stress of managing 30x my usual workload wasn't fun. The real problem is: those who've obtained building approval now can find neither tradesmen nor two bits of timber for them to nail together. Material and labour prices have skyrocketed and hence many of these government-subsidised houses people signed up for are now more expensive than they can afford. Big problems will ensue from this.

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Very first world problems, but I was travelling A LOT pre-pandemic. My wife is (was, she was made redundant) a cabin crew, so I would regularly take 2-day trips to see her in Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, etc. Due to Taiwan’s 21-day automatic quarantine whether your vaxxed or not, that’s pretty much prevented any travel plans, including going home to the U.S. for Christmas.

Randomly, because of the weird NBA schedule last year, I really got into the Premier League and F1.

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The biggest thing is I went from an every day in the office job to a fully remote roll. Now when I want to go into the office I have to book a flight. This has some disadvantages, but mostly I enjoy being home and being able to pick up my kids at 4pm instead of at 5:45pm.

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Almost solely working from home still, not likely to be back on the office regularly until next summer, means I'm saving a load of money on lunches and travel. Also means I'm not socialising in the city (Cambridge, UK) nearby as much either, though getting out for dinners as regularly as before now!

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I’ve reported on COVID since it started. My spouse worked in the COVID unit isolation ward at a nursing home for 13 months. It just became too much so she switched careers. Her grandmother just died of it, making her one of a couple dozen I know. I feel like one portion of society is dealing with the pandemic and the rest is fighting on Facebook.

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Hi Ethan, apologies for the out-of-context message, but I'm a big fan from Australia. I have an Australian Audible account but can't see your book 'Victory Machine' available in Australia. Do you know why this is? Not looking for tech support, just wondering if you were aware :) Love your work.

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Personally, I feel like I have become a lot stronger given how tough COVID and the isolation was. The UK spent a long time in lockdown and I didn't really see anybody outside of my family for 6-8 months. I love my family but seeing the same people every single day could be tough and irritations over small shit suddenly felt like a big deal. When I went to university, it was pretty lonely and it was hard to be motivated to do anything without social interaction or any real responsibilities. I think I've started to find more joy in the small things and appreciate what I have.

That being said, the pandemic provided me with the time and space to be able to cover the Thunder for an entire season. I was able to stay up late into the night, record podcasts and generally interact with the community, it was a lot of fun. I feel like that time has allowed me to genuinely build bonds with people.

In an odd way, I feel like the trajectories of my sports team mirror my own feelings during the pandemic. When Liverpool finally won the league in June 2020, I felt pretty optimistic about the pandemic and thought it would be over relatively quickly. A year later, both the Thunder and Liverpool were going through rocky patches and the pandemic was not going all that well for me. I was super busy at school and my social interaction fell off a cliff which was not nice.

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I believe a principal effect of the contraction of normal life due to Covid has been the effects of the accelerated cultural influence of social media and the internet generally, and the concomitant displacement of the varied modes of human interaction of the pre-Covid era.

As Covid spread in the US early in 2020, the threat it posed might have brought us together as a nation with a common cause. Unfortunately, but as I expected, all the deep, conflicts and hostilities that preceded Covid instead infused our responses to the pandemic.

I avoid Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media--I think it’s clear that they have amplified the worst aspects of human interactions, producing escalating anger, intolerance, conformity, self-righteousness, dogmatism, immoderation, suspicion, belligerence, authoritarianism, misunderstanding, pointless conflict, hatred, and mob mentality. Yet, the isolation of individuals by Covid restrictions left millions of people with a sharply reduced number of outlets for communication and contact.

The pandemic was itself a blow to our confidence and resiliency--jobs and livelihoods destroyed, economic security undermined, plans and aspirations indefinitely impeded, and personal contact with other people increasingly regarded as a potential source of infection, illness, and death. But it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that a great deal of social and cultural devolution and demoralization was exacerbated by the effects of the increased reliance upon social media that came with the public and private restrictions on human activity.

This is obviously a very broad and generalized effect, and one that’s hard to prove empirically. But as society has become increasingly coarse, crude, and misanthropic over the past 22 months, I believe it’s largely attributable to the pandemic and its effects, which elevated social media by orders of magnitude.

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In a couple of ways. We had some very harsh lock downs at the beginning of covid and I avoided seeing my aging parents for like 6 months, and it turned out to be the last months of my mom's life (surprise cancer, not covid) so that sucked.

On the more positive note my job moved to remote mode which is amazing, even though we are now going back to 2 days from the office and rest from home.

Back to negative, I haven't been abroad for 2 years now, and I used to to every couple of months or so, so I'm going a bit crazy.

Did manage to save a lot more money so that's s nice.

A mixed bag overall I guess.

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Much less traveling to see family. Almost exclusively video for the last 18 months. I may never go into a grocery store again (we love delivery). Potentially large attendance used to attract us to events, now it makes us LESS enthusiastic/likely to attend.

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