Social lessons to be learned from COVID-19
Nothing beats live, candid conversation with everyone from our coworkers in the staffroom to cute strangers on the bus.
Sadly, lighthearted exchanges with the barista who prepares our usual as soon as we walk in the door are now remembered with an air of nostalgia.
Sure, we can text or Facebook message each other to keep up to date, but there is no substitute for the face-to-face everyday interaction.
A mobile phone or computer screen cannot recreate the warmth of laughter, eye contact and body language that accompany live interaction. We simply don’t notice the way in which a person’s eyes glint and change colour with their mood through a screen, nor can we attain the comfort of a friendly hug. Without human touch, life is pretty empty.
Being ordered to isolate makes us crave company even more.
And yet, we began the process of social distancing years ago. This occurred around the same time we started carrying smartphones. We found ourselves having fewer in-person conversations; we visited each other less; we had fewer parties, dinner parties; and one-on-one social interactions. It seemed easier to just not deal with each other.
I wonder how many chance encounters never happened because someone was too focused on the screen in front of them; not paying attention to the attractive stranger who desperately hoped to catch their eye?
Humans are difficult and complicated and messy; it was easier to have our primary relationship with our phone. Our phones know us better than our friends and family, and probably even better than we know ourselves.
Perhaps one positive that will come out of COVID-19 is that once the opportunity arises we will disconnect from our phones and truly reconnect with each other, and social distancing will be replaced by social solidarity.