The Cancer Curmudgeon is a Cat Meme Come to Life

OK so the title isn’t THAT big of a startling confession. I should’ve suspected my true nature all along. But the stay-at-home thing has REALLY highlighted this truth.

As soon as the rumors of school/bars/restaurants etc. began rumbling, the cat memes began taking over all of my feeds. I mean all—my personal feeds and social media platforms I run for others. The best was the first—it was so succinct. It said something like: dogs will be the real winners of the pandemic because the humans will be home ALL. THE. TIME. The cats….not so much. Then every other meme I saw was something like a cat writing in a diary—the human is STILL in my spot; won’t leave the house. You get the idea.

Stay at home cats

The takeaway—at least the way I interpret it—goes like this: cats were great at staying home and social distancing all along. Then those humans had to do it too, and got all up in the cats’ personal spaces. This exact thing is happening to me.

I actually prefer staying in. I’m not an especially social creature. One of the fall-outs from my whole cancer experience was this introduction to social media, which I’d sort of avoided/did only for work, prior to the end of my treatment. I enjoyed those heady days of 2012—finding various nooks and crannies of the internet—my cancer friends, my geeky fandom friends (and yes there is crossover). The best part for me was that it was kind of on my own terms. I could tune out a few days if I wanted, if my social anxieties barged in. I learned to curate my feeds to make me happy—which has turned out to be an oddly useful skill of late.

In the crazy first days of the stay-at-home era, I experienced a barrage of buzzing notifications on my phone. Much was work related—and kind of my own fault. I bought into the idea of “Doing Something” (a mistake I will explore in a follow up post). I asked for info about where kids could get lunches since schools were closed, info to help local communities. I was busier than before in crafting messages to get out on behalf of clients/volunteer orgs. All the messages I’d carefully created and scheduled to go out had to be taken down and I was scrambling to adapt and replace (hmmm, sometimes getting too ahead and planning too carefully CAN backfire).

Don’t get me wrong, I am super grateful people sent me things—on all platforms—to collect and wrangle into a coherent message. It was just a bit overwhelming when I was out scavenging for groceries. On top of that, a few folks—people I truly like—put me in group texts of encouraging messages. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated them—but it was weird. Because it was coming from people I usually only interact with in person—not in social media/phone worlds.

I was like the cats, with all the extroverts coming into my space, bringing too much energy. I felt a bit claustrophobic. See, as an introvert, I can control WHEN I interact—in like a coffee shop or at a meeting. When I’m drained, I can retreat. I can interact with my online world at my discretion. Zoom meetings, Google chat, texts that I feel compelled to respond to—no matter how late at night—it all feels invasive.

It’s like this old joke on tumblr: in the early days of the internet we were told we should NOT tell strangers/weirdos online where we live in real life. In 2012, we didn’t want to tell people we knew in real life about our weirdo tumblr accounts. I was VERY careful when I began my blog—I never wanted to reveal my real name. I eventually got over that and blurred the boundaries a little. Because I seriously doubt anyone I know gives a shit about my weirdo online life.

But this is…a lot.

Things have already started to calm down, the adjustment period is setting in. I’m back to having some measure of control over my boundaries. When I manage to get out for my bit of walks/fresh air, or when I’m out hunting for elusive toilet paper—I’ve learned to ignore the buzzing alerts. I’ll be trapped inside later and will have to time to deal with whatever it is. And they will be around later, too. They can respond to me when their self-imposed schedule allows as well.

But I’m not doing another damn Zoom this week. Enough!

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