contributed by: Russ Josephs, advertising professional (brand strategy), trend analyst, musician, writer, and a New Yorker living in Taiwan.
Quick introduction: I’m a New Yorker who has been living in Taiwan since 2016. I magically and fortuitously ended up here before the beginning of the end (i.e. Trump), and was also lucky to live in various parts of Europe during a good portion of Bush’s two terms (UK, France, Hungary).
If I have any wisdom to impart it would be this: Live abroad when we have a shitty president. Ideally several time zones away. Even better if you don’t speak the language. This provides a nice buffer from the endless news cycle of horrors.
However, early this year I was all but ready to return home. COVID-19 had hit China, and was rapidly spreading to other countries, including Taiwan. I was thrust into a nightmare situation – everyone wearing masks at all times; temperature checks and body scans galore; quarantine for new arrivals; text alerts to everyone in the country showing you who was infected and where they traveled to.
Only later did I realize that this wasn’t a nightmare at all but simply a country with a government that was proactive and prepared. In fact, I was in one of the safest places on the planet (to date, we have 388 cases and 6 deaths).
Aside from the precautions I mentioned, life here is relatively normal. While people are going out less and traveling less, and some are choosing to work from home or keep their kids at home, most people are living the same way they did prior to the virus.
I myself only go out occasionally, and spend the vast majority of my time at home. This is partially due to safety concerns, and partially because I recently lost my job. Oftentimes it feels like a double isolation, as I’m not only separated from those around me, I’m separated from my friends and family back home.
Now that you’re up to date on my situation, here are 10 Isolation Tips to help you through this time. Full disclosure: These are less tips and more what I’ve been doing to occupy myself. Results and relevance may vary.
- LOOK FOR WORK
With unemployment figures reaching record levels, chances are you or someone you know is in this situation. While there aren’t a lot of traditional openings at the moment, you’d be surprised how many remote opportunities you can find. Pretty much any major job site like LinkedIn or Indeed has a remote option. I’ve also seen a few Google Docs floating around in different industries, including my own (advertising/marketing), chock full of remote roles.
- GO BEYOND TIGER KING ON NETFLIX
Tiger King, Ozark, Money Heist, etc. are LIFE. But sometimes you need more than passive entertainment. Sometimes you require actual mental stimulation and inspiration. Fortunately there’s a respectable amount of amazing docs just waiting for you to binge. If you haven’t seen it yet, The Game Changers is essential viewing. I also recommend Heal (a revolutionary way to look at medicine and health), The Most Unknown (what happens when top scientists from disparate fields are paired up to chat about the most pressing problems of the day), and Have You Seen the Listers? (a fascinating biopic about street artist Anthony Lister).
- MAKE SOMETHING!
Remember when we were kids stuck inside on a rainy day? In addition to making forts, playing video games and annoying our parents, we also made stuff. The beauty was that aside from a coveted spot on the fridge, there was no reason to do it beyond the pure and immediate satisfaction of creation itself. I highly encourage you to do the same. Write a poem. Paint a picture. Choreograph a dance routine. Whether you share the finished product or not is up to you. As an example, here’s a song I wrote about the benefits of being an introvert in the time of Covid
- DO SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEONE
The Dalai Lama says that you should try and make the world a better place. But if you can’t do that, at least don’t fuck it up any more than it already is (I’m paraphrasing). With this in mind, if every single person did even a tiny good thing, it would collectively make a huge difference. Things you can do: Sign a petition. Leave a positive comment on someone’s blog post or video. Give $1 (or $5 or $10) to a website that’s struggling. You get the idea.
- GO DOWN A TIKTOK RABBIT HOLE
Yes it can be obnoxious and repetitive and even depressing (scores of Gen Z desperately vying to become influencers and gain social cred). However, there are some true gems here, and if you ever want to willingly disappear down a weird and oddly satisfying rabbit hole this is the place to do it. Plus, the algorithm is genius. It quickly learns what you like and serves up more of the same.
- MAKE A POST-COVID BUCKET LIST
Many groundbreaking business ideas, inventions and artworks were conceived under the worst of circumstances, and actualized when things improved. Making a list (or a vision board) is a great way to visualize and manifest everything you want to do and achieve once things get back to normal. And of course, because getting back to normal is basically impossible, it’s also a good way to document how you want to live your life and what you want to accomplish in this strange new world.
- WATCH MORE THAN CAT VIDS ON YOUTUBE
Just like Netflix, there are some truly phenomenal videos and channels on here that can really get you thinking (and even change your life). Ted Talks are perfect for this, but an even better option is Impact Theory. Run by entrepreneur and overall good guy Tom Bilyeu, the channel is comprised of interviews with some of the most interesting and innovative self-starters and thought leaders on the planet. Honestly I can’t recommend this channel enough for pure, no-holds-barred inspiration and motivation.
- GET BACK ON FACEBOOK
While Facebook is kind of the worst, and Zuckerberg is a self-serving little shit, there’s no better place right now to keep track of everyone during the pandemic (especially parents and grandparents). If you can ignore the politics and the ads, it’s not a bad way to stay in touch and remain relatively well-informed.
- TAKE A TRULY UNIQUE PERSONALITY TEST
You probably already know your Myers-Briggs and your Hogwarts House. But do you know which fictional character you are? Someone decided to painstakingly analyze the traits of hundreds of film and TV characters in order to determine who you most closely resemble. My results were eerily accurate (I’m basically a hybrid between Luna Lovegood, Michael Scott and Fox Mulder).
- PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Last but not least, this is as good a time as any to try and remember all the positive things you have in your life. Despite the seemingly endless array of crap we are faced with: political corruption, climate change, economic uncertainty (oh yeah plus a killer virus/global pandemic), there is still loads of good in the world. Giving thanks for this on a daily basis can do wonders to reframe your mindset and shift your thinking. Also, if there are some unpleasant things in your life that you want to change (and actually have control over), this is a great way to help mentally prepare yourself to deal with them.
Anyhow, that’s my time. Feel free to drop a comment or reach out directly with any questions, thoughts, job offers (!) or anything else you want to share. And please, wherever you are, stay safe. We will all get through this, together. Much love from Taiwan ❤
BYT makes our living off of things that are currently non-existent as a source of income (arts, events, arts and event advertising). If you’d like to support the work we do, click here. Every little helps right now. Thank you.