Pandemic Diary: April 2nd, 2020

Quarantine is the cultural appropriation of depressed people.

—Comment from a recent Reddit post on r/Coronavirus

Today has been one of those days where, as the day wore on, the more anxious, depressed, and angry at turns that I got. It didn’t help that I swore I would stay off Twitter and Reddit today (I was up till 1:00 a.m. last night reading through my Twitter feed, which at this point is 80% coronavirus-related experts.) You can imagine how well that resolution went.

It didn’t help that this morning I posted a musing to the r/Winnipeg subReddit community, about how the coronavirus pandemic was like a 6-to-18-month blizzard that we all had to get through, all isolated in our homes at the same time, venturing out from time to time in the storm to clear the spaces around our doors, but basically hunkered down at home. Everybody stuck at home, but going through the blizzard together, pulling together and helping each other get through this.

I got a bunch of ignorant comments and I finally yanked my post this evening, angry at the world, and angry at myself for letting some social media trolls get to me. I should know better by now at my age.

And fucking Jared Kushner dispensing pandemic advice at today’s White House press conference shit-show (which of course I heard about through my Twitter feed) just about finished me off. I’m not sure my blood pressure can take any more of this. And we are only at the first million cases of COVID-19; what is the rest of April gonna look like? May? June? July?!??

I am so completely and utterly done with this day. I am popping a couple of Lorazepam with my chamomile tea this evening.

Please, stay home. As I have already said, with my underlying health conditions, if I get COVID-19 I am a sitting duck. Flatten the curve.

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Super Bad Transmittable Contagious Awful Virus! A Selection of My Favourite Pandemic Parody Videos (So Far)

My television died today.

Good-bye, old TV set…
(photo by Gaspar Uhas on Unsplash)

I should hasten to add that it was an ancient, 20-inch, cathode-ray-tube TV set which I inherited from my grandmother when she passed away back in 2004, so this was hardly an unexpected development. Late this afternoon, it started giving off quite a hideous buzzing noise while I was watching various 24/7 news channels, and after turning it off, I discovered later this evening that I could no longer turn it back on. It’s gone.

I should also hasten to add that I pretty much gave up watching any sort of broadcast television years ago. I much prefer consuming TV and movies on my iPad, using various apps such as CBC Gem, Netflix, and YouTube. So really, this is not such a big loss. And it’s a sharp reminder to me, to cut back on the relentless onslaught of coronavirus news coverage.

And, speaking of YouTube, a minor cottage industry appears to have sprung up overnight: coronavirus parody videos of popular songs. I blogged about one parody video a while ago, but the trend has definitely continued, with more creators jumping on the bandwagon! So I thought I would share with you a few sterling examples of this strange but entertaining recent phenomenon.

First up is this straightforward, simple message from Robert Emmett Kelly:

Next up is singer Chris Mann, who has released a similar message to Robert, but in a much more stylish fashion! (He’s got a number of coronavirus parodies on his YouTube channel, including a cover of Adele’s Hello which is also quite funny.)

Next up is another favourite of mine, courtesy of the very talented Daniel Matarazzo:

But I have saved the very best YouTube parody video for last: a British family that has released an updated version of a very well-known song from Les Misérables, which is absolutely genius, in spite of a few flat notes near the end!

Honestly, the level of creativity all of these people have is truly inspiring!

Second Life Has Seen an Increase in New and Returning Users During the Coronavirus Pandemic (Plus the Launch of the Second Life Book Club)

This morning, host Strawberry Linden had as her guests for her weekly talk show Lab Gab:

  • Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg (a.k.a. Ebbe Linden); and
  • Linden Lab’s Senior Director of Marketing, Brett Atwood (Brett Linden).
Ebbe, Strawberry and Brett Linden at today’s Lab Gab

When asked if Linden Lab has noticed an increase in usage because of the pandemic, Ebbe said:

Absolutely. We’re seeing quite an interesting resurgence of returning users, as well as new users coming in to explore Second Life. We see registrations up over 60%, [user] concurrencies up north of 10%, and we’re just a week or so into people being locked up. We can actually see countries and states that imposed strict stay-home policies, we see a corresponding jump in people in those markets jumping into Second Life.


Second Life is launching a monthly Book Club event with Draxtor Despres bringing established authors into SL (much the same as he has in Sansar!) to do readings. A blogpost on the SL blog gives more details:

As book publishers scramble to adjust to new social distancing protocols and other coronavirus-era restrictions, Second Life offers a safe, synchronous way for authors to hold real-time book readings, engage in meet-and-greets with their fans and promote their publications in an immersive person-to-person setting.

We’re proud to partner with Draxor Despres for the introduction of the Second Life Book Club, a new series of literary-minded events. Drax has lined up many established authors for a series of recurring in-world “virtual book tours” that will be kicked off in April with a multi-author panel that will discuss their thoughts on writing and selling books in the age of COVID-19.

Scheduled for the kick-off event, which will happen on April 8 at 10 a.m. (SLT) in Second Life, are a slate of best-selling authors: Matt Ruff (“Lovecraft Country”), Ken Liu (“The Paper Menagerie”), SL Huang (“Zero Sum Game”) and CB Lee (the Sidekick Squad series). This premiere event will also feature a yet to be confirmed guest from the publishing end of the book business. Stay tuned for further announcements.


When asked about people who are experiencing difficulties in paying for sims due to pandemic-related financial difficulties (with Second Norway being a recent example), Ebbe encourages users to call the Support team at https://support.secondlife.com to discuss their particular situations, to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.


Linden Lab offices in San Francisco are closed, since California is on lockdown during the pandemic. All staff are currently working from home. Ebbe does not expect any interruptions to its service.


For those wanting to know when avatar name changes will be available to users, Ebbe said that “very few weeks” is the outer bound for that feature. (Which would be before the end of April….but we’ll see.)

There were many other questions, so here’s the full livestream on YouTube:

VRChat’s Popular Endgame Talk Show Will Focus on Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

On this blog, I have often written about Endgame, the popular, long-running talk show based in VRChat (here, here, here, and here).

Well. this coming Saturday, March 21st, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time, Endgame is hosting a special episode, titled Coping with COVID-19: Dealing with the Stress of a Pandemic:

In a tweet sent out yesterday to promote the event, the organizers said:

Join us for a special Endgame episode in VRChat on Saturday: we’ll facilitate a support group to discuss how we can cope with COVID-19. It’s stressful to be isolated, but we can come together in social VR to navigate this pandemic. Saturday 3/21 at 11:00 a.m. PST @PsychNoah

PsychNoah is, of course, Noah Robinson (a.k.a. Psych; TwitterLinkedIn), a clinical psychology doctoral student at Vanderbilt University and the founder and CEO of Very Real Help, and one of the three regular hosts of the Endgame talk show in VRChat, along with Nomono and Poplopo.

Given how I have been struggling with both anxiety and depression during the coronavirus pandemic, I do intend to be in the studio audience for what promises to be a fascinating, wide-ranging, and educational discussion. Although users are urged to ask questions, you can also just sit back, watch, and listen, and enjoy something that is becoming ever rarer in the real world—being part of a crowd!

Endgame now has its own website, with and you are welcome to join their “Deep Thoughts” Discord server. You can also find all their previous weekly episodes on YouTube. See you on Saturday!