Dear Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2,
Yes, I am using your full name, much like parents do when a child has done something wrong. It serves as a warning that they are knee deep in the big funky. This is because I am angry, and we need to talk. Seriously, we need to talk. This is going to be a difficult conversation for both of us, I have a lot to say, and you aren’t going to like most of it. I really think we need to break up. It’s not me, it’s you. Now, I know you are just doing what viruses do, it’s how nature designed you. Nature also designed me and everyone I know to be able to give you a home where you can thrive. I can’t let that happen. I just can’t.
What is going on here fits the definition of an unhealthy relationship. You are making me, and everyone around me, very unhappy. You intimidate not only me, but everyone around me. We have to live in fear because of you. If we don’t do certain things, we have to worry that you will hurt us. That is no way for anyone to live. You have told me that I have to wear a face mask as a fashion accessory, or at least you would have if my doctor hadn’t made that decision a number of years back because I have a compromised respiratory system.
That’s something else, you have made my doctor’s job so much harder. He’s really a great guy and doesn’t deserve any of this. In fact, at the start of your reign of terror, he doubled the dosage on my antivirals, knowing full well my body needs all the help it can get. Some days I wonder if I need to ask him to up my antidepressants. Despite being the main drug in my fibromyalgia treatment, you have made them damn near necessary for my mental health as well. Healthy relationships should not require doctor intervention to continue. Still, I know deep down that you really don’t want to hurt anyone, but you do. It’s your nature. Have you ever heard the parable of the Scorpion and the Frog? It’s kind of like that.
A scorpion asks a frog to carry him over a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, both would sink, and the scorpion would drown. The frog then agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature.
I just can’t live like this anymore. No one can. You have made it difficult to leave the house. One of my family members has into a toilet paper hoarding zombie who believes every everything about you that comes along. I have limited hours in the day and limited energy and I now have to expend some of that unnecessarily dispelling rumors, myths, and conspiracy theories.
Then there is the mess you have made of my education. Things started out so well. I was finally able to return to college to finish my education after raising a family. Then you came along and forced yourself into my life, complicating everything. I do not have access to my professors as I should. I can’t just show up in someone’s office if I need something, I have to make an appointment. That is problematic if I need help with something, or I have a pressing problem I need my advisor for.
You have made it impossible to purchase course books easily. I just can not walk into the university bookstore and get what I need. It’s not there. The bookstore has decided we are not allowed to touch the books and they will pick them out for us. Because of this I have received unusable used textbooks that are marked up to the point that the text is no longer legible. I have to order what I need and hope it shows up in time.
Furthermore, if I had wanted to take online classes I would have done so long ago. This is a less than optimal learning experience. There is so much wrong with it. Some of our professors expect us to teach ourselves and we never see them. Our only communication is a random email. I am not going into student loan debt to teach myself. Other professors we see once a week to go over homework, after we have basically taught ourselves the material from our textbooks.
Part of the college experience is to attend lectures, ask questions, and engage in lively debates. As Miss Frizzle always says, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” We no longer get to do this. Instead we watch YouTube videos and post to discussion boards that are less discussion and more regurgitating what we read or watched. Everything that would be done in class with others is now done alone outside of class adding to the workload.
You also have one of the most annoying friends, Zoom Fatigue. This is the final straw. One should not need a nap after class. My professors are not put you to sleep boring. This was never a problem this time last year when I had classes in actual classrooms. There is a misconception that students and those working from home are just complaining about spending so much time in front of a computer. It is more than that. Trust me, a lot of us can lose many precious hours in front of a screen playing video games without complaint. Triple A video games aren’t referred to as ‘life ruiners’ for nothing. If it was just staring at a screen that was the problem I would have smashed my first e-reader.
The human brain is not designed for hours of video conferences and so many of us spend upwards of 5 hours a day, minimum, in virtual video conference rooms. There have been a number of studies about it reporting on how we are missing essential non-verbal communication and therefore have to work harder to appear interested in what is going on. Then there is just the stress of video calls. Are things working properly? What if a family member interrupts? Video calls are stressful in ways we, as a species, have never dealt with before. If this goes on too much longer the genetics of the human brain will have to make some evolutionary decisions in order to adapt for survival.
Essential workers get hazard pay. Students who have to learn this way should automatically be given a grade one letter grade higher as a ‘stress adjustment’. None of us are performing our best because of you. I am currently worried I might not graduate on time because I need to retake classes. How is that going to look when I apply to grad school? I really want my MFA.
When I started university, I was certain that I would be able to do something with my degree upon graduation. Today, I am not so sure. This is all your fault. You have changed things so much, and not for the better. The economy is bad leaving me wondering if there will even be an English major job market later. Some days I feel like my time would be better spent majoring in basket weaving. After all, people will always need baskets for storage and cats to sleep in.
Do I even need to remind you of the political dystopia you have manufactured? You seriously cause hate and discontent wherever you go! Relationships are supposed to be about love and understanding, supporting each other and helping each other grow. All you have done is divide people and ruin lives. It is time for you to go. You have overstayed your welcome much like that freeloading freegan friend who eats out of the dumpster.
Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.