We, as humans, are social beings. Community is important, social contact is important, person to person conversations are important. It is a little funny how much we take these things for granted until, it is in the best interest of caring for others that we avoid them. Part of the social contract is to put others before yourself. In that respect we are seeing a tremendous reinforcement of that social contract. Introverts are secretly celebrating social distancing, germaphobes (such as myself) are finally vindicated in their beliefs. But, all of us are currently doing our part and I believe it will indeed “flatten the curve.”
Social distancing is easy for me. I can occupy myself with my own thoughts for longer than most and I enjoy a cozy nook with a good book (or truth be told, an average one) and a cup of coffee. But I do miss authentic social interactions and frankly am done with this distancing. No, I am not about to go rogue and hug everyone and violate the rules; you should know by now, that I am a rule follower. It doesn’t mean that I like it though.
Technology can replicate many of these essential social aspects for us. I have had no shortage of Zoom meetings, webinars, and virtual meetings in the past few weeks. Social media is perhaps a feeble attempt to replicate real social interactions, but I find it woefully inadequate and irresponsible. People say things to strangers via social media that they would never say to another person’s face. Bold may be a generous term for what may be considered rude. I try not to engage in that way with others whether it is in “real” life or virtual. Somehow, for many, social behavior is different when it is computer-generated than when it is real.
Of course, there are numerous positive attributes of social media. It has been a perfect way to keep track of friends that live in distant lands or from distant times in my life. This aspect makes the world smaller for me and I can see how my friends in Europe are surviving in this new world. I can see the painting my friend in California is currently working on and keep an eye on how my own children are making the best of this crisis from their respective locales. However, none of it can ever replace the face to face conversation that we so often take for granted. It is better to be in the presence of the person you care for and hear their stories in their own voice. I treasure those times and look forward to resuming normal interaction.
We are social beings, and I am hopeful that this time in isolation will remind us more acutely of how deeply important our relationships are. I will try desperately to not take for granted a simple dinner with friends gathered around the same table. I will try not to take for granted greeting friends with a warm hug. I will try not to take for granted having people come in the office. I do like the people who work here and continue to provide essential services to our clients, but I would like a variety (no offense IWA staff). I look forward to seeing all of you soon.