3 min read

The new, jerk ass jerk zombie apocalypse.

I really didn’t want to get out of bed at 5 AM so I didn’t and tapped my phone screen until I blindly found the “snooze button.” The phone kept nagging at me every eight minutes so I finally made it upright, out of bed, and ready for a meeting at six with my friend and business partner, Brett. As per usual we didn’t talk about work—the intent of the weekly call—but shared conversations and events we experienced over the last couple of days. This morning’s chat was especially productive as we began to reach some conclusions about the people we have both interacted with and worked with in the last two years.

Which I will share with you here. After experiencing an incredible range of highs and lows in the last two years we both concluded the following:

  • The pandemic shone a light on who people really are deep down
  • A lot of people are having a very difficult time climbing out on the other side of the pandemic

None of this has to do with vaccinations, whether you got them or not. I write that because I know someone reading this is going straight to blaming vaccines because that’s the world we live in now. It has everything to do with a thought Anthony Baker shared with me a few days ago: “It’s become more acceptable to be a hermit.”

I hadn’t thought about that until he said it, but, yeah, he’s spot on. As we were all made to shelter in place, work from home, and regulate six feet distance between ourselves, it became socially practical and acceptable to be isolated no matter if you liked it or not.

The isolation amped up our anxiety further inflamed by an onslaught of media-fueled polarizing events—politics, crime, climate, and economics—completely out of our control. The things combined with streaming and delivery services keep us inside longer. Greater isolation and segregation that no amount of video chat could save us from. The perfect flywheel for destroying a previously, mostly calm and centrist society.

Just as the pandemic exposed many unhealthy businesses that were likely inevitable to fail, the same goes with people. The pandemic shone a light on who they really are or what fear and isolation turned them into and not for the better.

People who used to come across as congenial don’t bother at all—any signs of mutual respect are gone. Traces of narcissistic behavior turned into full-bore attention whores. So many folks who used to take the time to interact, listen, and lean into conversation don’t. Hell, they don’t even pretend anymore. Apathy, indifference, callousness, and self-centeredness are now more common in my network than their opposites.

I honestly don’t think people see their new reflection which might be why they don’t really care to change. And the job and contract losses in our industry are certainly not helping. Almost everyone is scrambling to find financial and health benefits safety and certainty or they are Game of Thronesing to keep what they have. 

Speaking of, I’d love to see someone write a book on the GoTing that took place and got progressively worse at InVision with each new round of layoffs. In hindsight, they should have hired behavioral scientists to study the many seasons of Lord of the Flies that took place there.

And all of this is keeping too many of us in a bad place. At least it’s bad to me, and Brett. Scratch that. On one hand, it’s bad because as it turns out, there are a lot of self-centered a-holes in this world. Some small, others gigantic, but assholes nonetheless, and more than I’d like to see. Just as the pandemic cleared out a lot of failing companies so too it has exposed many people failing to be authentically congenial, respectful, empathetic, caring, and kind.

I never liked being a hermit but if that’s what the majority of my network wants to be, cool for you but I’m going to find a new group of folks to work with, to play with who also seek to be genuinely better humans.