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This whistleblower can relate to being inside all day and trying not to die of boredom.
If you live in the mid-Atlantic—and, to a lesser degree, the Northeast—you’re probably aware that most of your weekend will be spent indoors, waiting out the full wrath of Winter Storm Jonas. And by the time Saturday night rolls around, you’re sure to realize the toll that 24-48 hours of solitary confinement takes on a person.
As it happens, there’s one man who can keenly relate to long periods of isolation in a frigid climate with very occasional to zero human interaction outside of the Internet: Edward Snowden. The famous NSA whistleblower even said so himself:
Here’s why being snowed in is exactly like being Edward Snowden:
1) It’s less thrilling than it sounds
Just as being “on the run from the U.S. intelligence community” only sounds exciting, so is a weekend in the bullseye of a “crippling” snowstorm. What most people forget about the term “snowed in” is the “in” part, which can get boring pretty quickly. The novelty of staring at the pretty blizzard outside your window fades fast (5-10 minutes at most). Binge-watching an entire season of Master of None or Transparent only takes a day. Soon it hits you that you’re about to be alone for a very long time.
Before he secured his cult hero status and Twitter presence, many were worried that Snowden faced a “sad and lonely” future, just as many in Storm Jonas’s path currently do: mostly indoors, lonely, and cut off from civilization. Sound familiar?
2) You both gotta eat sometime
No one saw hide nor hair of the NSA leaker for about two months; then Russian news site Life News reported that a man who looked disarmingly like Edward Snowden was spotted outside a grocery store. Two months without food seems like a long time, so we’re guessing that—like you, brave Storm Jonas warrior—Snowden must stock up a lot of groceries in advance.
3) Other people just think you’re a whiner
PM Cheung/(Flickr CC BY 2.0)
Whether you’re ratting out a high-power intelligence agency or trapped in the middle of a record-breaking blizzard, someone out there will think you complain way too much. So what if the NSA has all your telephony metadata? So what if your city gets 3 feet of snow dumped on it—enough to potentially destroy poorly-constructed rooftops? You know what, Mr. Snowden? You’re kind of a whiner.
4) You start having a lot of “brilliant” ideas that actually aren’t so brilliant
On reflection, Twitter is a lot like checking other people’s email.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 18, 2016
Being cut off from the world is rough. When you’re snowed in, you will eventually reach the point where you start having a lot of “interesting” insights and “cool” ideas. With no work or school or friends or normal activities to occupy your brain, you might find your head filled with all these weird, wacky, wonderful things! Maybe drone scarecrows are actually a great idea? Perhaps hoverboards are actually awesome and all the backlash is really intense jealousy from non-hoverboard owners? When you start thinking like this, it’s time to interact with another human being.
If only your blizzard sex buddy would text you back.
Illustration by Max Fleishman
Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.