Never Go Outside Again

“Never go outside again,” I texted.

That’s right! Never. Go. Outside. Again.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is safer and less stressful to stay cocooned indoors all day and avoid all the trouble that comes from leaving our homes. Heading outside would require us to actually get out of bed, wash our faces, brush our hair, and maybe change our sweatpants for cleaner sweatpants,or even real pants. We might have to pull on both socks and shoes. This is a lot! If we get up and get dressed, we could no longer pull the blankets over our heads and hide from life. I’m not sure I even have socks anyway.

Why are we even thinking of heading out? Is this even a good idea? Logic says no. I’m pretty sure Euclid proved that the square of two sides equals the square of the hypotenuse, which is why I always lie across my bed at an angle between 10:00 a.m. and noon. Isaac Newton said that gravity attracts one mass to another mass inversely to the square of the distance between them, which is why I fully extend my arm at a precise 67 degree angle whenever I add ironic selfies to my Instagram story. Einstein said that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared, or something like that, so scientifically I know to always conserve energy by pacing myself and slowly pulling down the shades.

Honestly, there’s too much risk out in the real world. If I headed outdoors, I might accidentally exercise, meet new people, absorb direct sunlight, or, God forbid, see trees, grass, hills, streams, birds, bees, or the occasional cumulus cloud. I might have to actually feel my feelings!

Adam and Eve were right about the Garden of Eden, it was just too damn nice hanging out in nature: naked, carefree, and joyful all the time. They knew that their descendants were meant to be cooped up in tiny cubicles with a screen, a keyboard, and 274 unanswered Slack messages. Rather than capering across the grass in Arcadian bliss, we now sit hunched up in front of our devices with our backs hurting, eyes dry and red, a chronic low-level headache, and a feeling of dread about that email, text, or tweet that Joe over in sales may misinterpret. We’re not even eating apples from the tree of knowledge, like Eve and Adam did. We are munching birthday cake flavored protein bars, sipping pumpkin acai smoothies, and eating cauliflower waffles with no syrup, all in pursuit of the lowcarbketoszonepaleo fad diet of the month.

Of course, I don’t even need to leave my couch for meals. DoorDash and Uber Eats solve that problem. What would really be great, though (post COVID-19, of course), is if those nice delivery folks brought the food into my home right to my coffee table so I did not have to move at all. Even better, they could take the food out of the bag and arrange it in front of me so my eyes do not have to shift for one instant from the very important YouTube influencer who is explaining elbow skin hydration. And the ultimate in service? Yes, my delivery person would then actually hand feed me, dipping the teriyaki chicken wing in ranch dressing and then lifting it up to my mouth because my hands are otherwise occupied with an Xbox controller as I play Grand Theft Auto XXLV. This would be a total reversion to infant-hood, but with spicier food and car crashes. My “crib” would be sort of like a real baby’s crib but fully provisioned and always online. What a great life!

Even the thought of going outdoors exhausts me. It seems almost as hard as reading an actual book, instead of just scrolling through my instafacetiktweetsnaptok feed. Why go out, when I can experience the beauty of nature through those wonderful pictures on Instagram? The sunset photos on Pinterest seem well executed. Just watching ESPN must use up some calories too, no?

Maybe, though…just maybe… I might be missing something? There seem to be more and more people — apostates we might call them! — who are smarmily advocating the outdoors experience. What are all of these “fact-based” university studies about the benefits of walking? I heard about this thing called Vitamin D, that you get from the sun that builds bone strength (as if!?). There’s a company I found out about called “Nike” which seems to be taking on the big slipper conglomerates, making shoes designed not just for shuffling along, but for jogging or even running. I also keep getting tweets from people who are obsessed with the color green. They go on and on about something called “sustainability” which has to do with the “environment.” All this sounds like fake news to me. Maybe I will check Facebook to find out what’s real. Or maybe I’ll just watch Episode 17 of “How I Met Your Mother” Season 6.

Sorry, but I am distracted. I remember now what got me on this rant. I had received a text from my closest non-digital (i.e. breathing, human) friend asking if I wanted to take a walk. He mentioned that it was now Spring, and that the weather had turned nice. Needless to say, I had a negative reaction. What can I say, he caught me at a bad time. How can I go outside when my 2.17 shares of GameStop are plummeting?!…wait, now they are going up again?! OMG! Quick, what do the savvy investors on Reddit think? I have no time to meet up with my friend! I can sell 0.58 shares on Robinhood! I impulsively texted him back, “Never go outside again.”

And now it’s four hours later, and I’m not so sure about the text. Maybe those outdoorsy types are onto something. Perhaps there is, dare I say it, something more beyond my 4 walls, 6 screens, and 32 used plastic forks. I know I have clean socks somewhere underneath these pizza boxes. Why not? I will give nature a try…and if I can’t find those socks, there’s always Amazon.

Michael Faherty, March 29, 2021