Fleur is in the house.Fleur Rollet-Manus
Physically and virtually. An app informs my nearest and dearest that I've logged on to attend Wednesday's elevenses (home-brewed coffee in hand), Friday's pub quiz (caffeine switched for a prosecco) and Saturday's "night out" with DJ EZ's livestream echoing across seven different screens simultaneously. In-in is the new out-out, and my virtual hangout calendar is popping.
Yet six months ago I would have eye-rolled v. hard should you have told me that I'd download any form of app that requested access to my microphone and camera. Firstly, that's rolling the dice with my personal data - remember the ageing app scandal? Secondly, why on earth would I ever do that? I've already tried to delete FaceTime three times in a bid to increase my storage space. Forced social interaction? No thanks. It's bad for the soul.
Obviously, I'm a millennial. Not the kind that embarks in Twitter spats with boomers - although I will defend avocado being high on my list of essential food items - but the kind that's partial to a potted plant and who views bailing culture as totally acceptable. My GC (group chat) has been muted since its creation, I watch my phone ring and then wait for a WhatsApp to see what they really wanted and I've used "too much work" as an excuse for cancelling drinks… only to go home and binge-watch Love is Blind instead. Call it the Netflix-and-chill factor, call it crippling rent prices and a (failed) attempt to save money, call it cancel culture or just call it out - I'm flaky.
I'm a founding foreperson of the "Me Me Me" generation that has mastered the art of ghosting, breadcrumbing (think 21st-century Hansel and Gretel, but leading people on over text and last-minute dropping out on dates) and Draking (yes, like the rapper whose heartbreak-croonings chronicled his own ghosting woes). In theory, I've spent the latter part of my 20s preparing for a worldwide lockdown. So, why is it that when I'm being ordered to practise my pre-perfected stay-at-home disposition, I've never been more connected and committed to plans? In the face of a global pandemic, I've let go of my safety net of sub-par excuses and metamorphosed into a self-isolating social butterfly.
Blowing off the cobwebs of my iPhone camera, I'm FaceTiming friends, logging on to do group workouts and suggesting Lizzie McGuire marathons to communally blitz on Disney+. The same friends that would have shuddered (and hit decline) should I have had the audacity to FaceTime them without warning are logging on to watch me attempt to cut my housemate's hair and willingly sharing their WFH OOTD (outfit of the day). Our resurrected group chat has never been so entertaining.
For the first time, FOMO is real. I'm missing out on visiting a friend's newborn baby and IRL house-warming parties, as pals defied the odds and purchased their first pad. After neglecting reality in favour of my own company, I'm pining to be surrounded by friends and family. Science aside, social distancing has only exaggerated my longing to be, ironically, more social and the virtual cocoon I'd constructed for myself is showing cracks.
After spending hours plugged in to my own network, completing Netflix and throwing shade at people who spent their Saturday nights in clubs, I'm desperate to be served my (pre-mixed) negroni alongside an imitation Ibiza soundtrack. I'll gladly pay the service charge (for below-par service) and I'll even chuck in an Instagram geotag for good measure.
Two weeks in and my post-lockdown plans make Paris Hilton's iCalendar shudder - and yours should too. Take this time to banish self-diagnosed burnout, check in on yourself and check in on loved ones; keeping up with your friends and family is more important than keeping up with the Kardashians. Make those plans, organise that trip and stick to it. That must-see series will still be there in six months time, but you shouldn't be. Unless we've got a damn good excuse (reality TV is not one) we should stick to plans. If isolation has taught us anything, it's that cancel culture should be cancelled. Oh and next time, millennials, we should be careful what we wish for - it might just come true.