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17 things you shouldn't say to Melburnians in lockdown (and what to say instead)

If you ask us "what did we do this weekend" we're legally required to roll our eyes
Written by
Nicola Dowse
Cassidy Knowlton

Update 31/05/2021: This story was originally published during Melbourne's second lockdown in the winter of 2020. As the city hunkers down for another lockdown in May 2021, we feel like this story still resonates, but please note that specific lockdown details mentioned (like one hour exercise limits) may no longer apply. Visit the DHHS website for more on current restrictions. 

Look, us Melburnians are well known for saying “you just don’t get it”. So, at the risk of being insufferably clichéd, we’re going to use it once again, for a good reason. Because if you’re not living in Melbourne (or even Victoria) right now, you just don’t get what we’re going through.

We’re happy that all our interstate friends, family and colleagues have significantly more normality, and significantly less coronavirus, in their lives. We wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone. But because you’re not living under a second wave (and a consequent second wave of restrictions) there are a few things you might be saying to us, that might not be landing how they’re intended. 

Dear interstate compatriots: here’s a few things that you might want to reconsider saying to anyone in Melbourne and Victoria – and a few things we’d really love to hear instead.

17 things you shouldn’t say to Melburnians under lockdown

“Did you get up to much on the weekend?”
Strong no. We got up to nothing, same as last weekend and every day for the last *checks calendar* eternity.  

“At least you have a reason not to exercise.”
You will never want to exercise more than when someone tells you that you can only do so once a day, for a maximum of one hour.

“I know how you feel.”
Unless you are also under stage four lockdown, no, no you do not know how it feels.

“It must be nice to have so much peace and quiet.”
Some people might be enjoying the silence – but for others, it’s an eerie experience. 

“Now you have an excuse to bail on things.”
We would love to have the option to bail on things. 

“At least you’re saving money because you can’t go out.”
Lots of people have had their employment affected during the 2020 shutdowns, but for Melburnians (and Victorians) it is still ongoing. Many people are not saving money because they are not making any.

“Ugh, I’d hate to have to wear a mask all the time.”
It’s really not a big deal. Maybe you should try it.

“Just do the right thing and it’ll be over soon.”
Thank you, armchair expert, we hadn’t thought of that!

“We’re all in this together.”
We know you mean well, but you’re not going through the same experience. Maybe consider saying “I’m here for you” instead.

“We had lockdowns in [literally any other state] too, they’re not so bad.”
Ooh, so we see you are completely ignorant of the level of restrictions in Melbourne and Victoria, good to know. In addition to Melbourne having the strictest lockdown of anywhere in Australia, experiencing a lockdown after a brief period of relative freedom is absolutely soul-shattering.

“My day sucked, I had to stay inside and study/work all day.”
Believe it or not interstate friend, you do have a choice in that matter. We do not. 

“Take a look at these cool photos I took on my weekend away.”
There are probably some Victorians who enjoy seeing their interstate friends' travel photos. We’re happy you have freedom. But be mindful that this might remind some of us of everything we can’t do.

“This will be over soon.”
Unless you are Brett Sutton, we don’t want to hear it. We have a tentative end date to stage four, but there are no guarantees. We will likely still be under the most strict measures in the country even when stage four ends, so please, keep your predictions to a minimum. 

“If you guys had just followed the rules you wouldn’t be in this position.” 
Oof we hope no one actually thinks this is something you should say. Not even as a joke. Most people have been following the rules. All gazillion of them. We want this over. No one would spread this virus knowingly. All this statement does is add insult to injury.

“The numbers should be coming down faster than this.”
Do you have a PhD in epidemiology and/or virology? Unless the answer is yes, you are not qualified to speculate on this. 

“Oh sorry, I forgot about our Zoom call and I went out to a party. It was just Zoom. I didn’t think it was, you know, real.”
That Zoom date was the only thing in our calendars, and we had been looking forward to it all week. 

“Lots of other places/people have it much worse than you, be grateful you don’t live in [X] place.”
Imagine someone punched out your teeth and then said, “Lots of people have it worse than you.” Yeah, they do. But it still sucks. 

And 11 things that you should say

“I’m here for you.”
That sentence kind of feels like a hug. Thank you.

“If you need to talk (or rant), just let me know.”
It helps to know our friends are there to listen if we need it.

“Do you need anything? Is there anything I can send you?”
Even if we don't need anything, the offer is appreciated and shows you care.

“It’s really nice to talk to you.”
It feels good for our friends to remind us that they enjoy spending time with us, even from afar.

“I saw this cute animal video/funny meme today, and I thought you might like it.”
Fact: cute animal content is the best medicine.

“I love Melbourne, and I can’t wait until I can visit you again.”
Keep reminding us that this will one day end and that you're keen to see us IRL when it does. 

“Would you like me to send you a present in the post?”
Actually, don’t even ask. Just send things. The postie arriving is the most exciting part of our day.

“Let’s do a Zoom dinner/drinks/games night this Friday.”
Having an event, even a virtual one, to look forward to its great. And when you organise it, it's one less thing for our stressed-out brains to worry about.

“Here’s a playlist I made for you.”
Thank you for thinking of us!

“I just saw this movie and I loved it, you should check it out.”
Again, it's one less decision we have to make, and something we can then talk to you about later.

“Hello, how are you?”
Most of all, this. Don’t forget about us. Reach out, say hi, even if you have nothing to say.

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