For weeks the world has kept their eyes on the Coronavirus threat, and now it seems to be creeping closer to home. The CDC, WHO, local, state, and national governments are chiming in to both assure us and to warn us about what to prepare for and how to best respond. While I certainly suggest following the guidelines of the professionals, I couldn’t help but wonder if these organizations had considered the ramifications these guidelines would have for one of the largest at-risk groups: The Nerds. There are an overwhelming number of articles on this subject coming across your news feed, but I figured there was room for at least one more expert opinion. I happen to have a B.S. in B.S. With that in mind, I decided to compile this list of helpful tips and suggestions for you, my nerd friends.
Rush the (online) stores
No one wants to run out of reading and gaming material during a pandemic. For some of us nerds, our anxiety levels shoot up just thinking about that. Stock up now, friends! Maybe now’s the time to try a new graphic novel series! Start from issue 1 and read the whole lot; side stories and spinoffs, too. Reach out to your local comics shop and see if they do online sales or if they’d be willing to deliver or mail your newly expanded picklist. If they can’t, many stores will pull items for you and hold them at the desk, letting you still support your FLGS and comics shop while still minimizing your human interaction. Have you bagged and boarded and organized your collection? Stock up on supplies for that, too. You’ve got time now that you’re avoiding all public gatherings. If your local stores aren’t options, online comic book stores and Amazon are currently still available. Or you can always download issues from Marvel, DC, Aftershock, Image, etc. and get all the fun of comics without the closet full of white boxes and fear that someone with Cheeto hands will borrow them!
While you’re stuck online shopping, let’s do our own version of a cuss jar: for the next two weeks, every time you roll a 1 or your horse dies in Red Dead, put a quarter in the Jar of Shame. When this social distancing situation is lifted, take all that money to your local comics and game shops. Let’s face it: by then you’ll be ready for some fresh material, and they’ll be ready to see you and your cash flow again.
Stockpile (gaming) supplies
Sure, none of us would relish running out of toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Rice and beans can get us through a lot. But we have bigger issues than toilet paper if we are finally able to put a full week into platinuming Dark Souls and our Red Bull runs low. Is your headset on its last legs? Better make sure you upgrade your equipment just in case. If your significant other is stockpiling medicines and pet foods, now is the time to suggest to them that a 4K television is a necessary quarantine provision. In fact, you may want to go ahead and add a second Switch to your Amazon list. (For emergencies, of course.)
But you’ve actually already been stockpiling for years. Up until now, we’ve always called it our “shelf of shame” or our “backlog.” But now we call it our “Shelf of survival” and our “Finally-have-time-log.” Aren’t you glad you backed all those Kickstarters and jumped on all those Steam sales?
And all the introverted nerds said, “Amen.” Some of us are *living* for a two-week quarantine. In the meantime, we have never been more pleased to hear the powers that be saying things like “maintain a 3-6 foot distance from other people when in public spaces.” Channel your inner Arrested Development corrections officer and shout, “NO TOUCHING!” You huggers may have a hard time for the next few months.
This is the time to let your nerd flag fly. Greet people like Spock with a raised hand and a “Live long and prosper.” Or try saying, “Hello, sweetie,” which is both a great way to make the average person take two steps back, and has the added benefit of helping you identify the Whovians in the room. Kneel like Aragorn and proclaim, “You have my sword,” and see which of your friends and co-workers knows the proper response.
Masks. No, I’m not talking about medical supplies. We’ve all heard that the hoarding of masks is ineffective and is putting healthcare workers at risk. But now is the perfect time to sink the hours into completing your fully functional plague doctor cosplay costume. As a bonus, social distancing will be a lot easier for you if you’re walking around in a plague doctor mask. No one will come near you. Stilts would also create a similar social distancing effect but are less practical. And more likely to land you in the ER, which defeats the purpose. Gloves are essential items in any cosplay ensemble and are highly advisable in these times. Pair them with a cloak so you can throw your cloak and gloves in the laundry at the end of each workday and wash all the Coronavirus right off. Wear your new plague doctor mask, cloak, and glove combo to work and make the world a safer place. Your co-workers will be thankful for your costuming skills and safety-first attitude.
Talk to your loved ones, and make a plan
The unfortunate truth is that this pandemic may cause a serious disruption in your day to day lives. This means that even game night may need to be put on hold. Have you talked with your gaming group about Tabletop Simulator? We all know face to face gaming is irreplaceable. But can you imagine going two weeks or more without logging a win in Board Game Stats? I know. It’s a horrific thought. Make a plan with your family about how you can maintain your win ratio … ahem, I mean … how you can maintain your connection with them if a quarantine comes to your city or your home. Start figuring out which of your favorite games can be downloaded as an app. Might as well go ahead and upgrade your internet speed if you haven’t already.
Be willing to make some changes to your routine
If you’re stuck at home with your loved ones for weeks on end you may think this would be a great time to introduce them to your nerd passions, and you’d be right! You may discover that your spouse has an untapped passion for Twilight Imperium! They’ll never know until they try. And you’ll have plenty of time to educate (and, in some cases, bore) your loved ones on the minutiae of your passions. Watch through every season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and smile as your children begin threatening each other with assimilation. But keep in mind that turnabout is fair play: be prepared to join your loved ones in learning about their passions, too. You may find that you really love scrapbooking, bass fishing TV shows, and toy unboxing videos! You, too, will never know until you try. Be prepared to spend 14+ days bonding over each other’s individual joys.
And when you’ve had enough family togetherness, and the cabin fever sets in, you can still plug your headsets into your own audiobook/movie/game/music and spend some time alone … you stocked up on headsets, right?
That cover image is Michael Gross as Burt Gummer from the Tremors series, often seen as one of the original preppers.