Social distancing and human nature I.

Social distancing and human nature I.

Corona, COVID-19, pandemic. These words have become the part of our language on the daily basis. And this is not the only change, and most probably, not even the most relevant. From one day to the other we had to cut both working and private relationships in person, and had to go virtual.┬áBasically, our whole life turned upside down, although nothing else have been requested from us than to stay isolated at home, and keep distance where interaction would not be avoidable.┬áSo, we are at home and we keep distance. We are counting days and try to figure out what will happen once the lockdown measures are lifted…

I decided a couple of weeks ago to observe the behavior of my environment under these new, seemingly easy, but realistically stressing circumstances, however described. I also decided to write my perception a bit later. In order not to have a full-of-panic, a full-of-fear or how-could-it-happen type of tone. I am basically a disciplined person, but I used to travel a lot and accept limitations with strong comments. Thus, you can imagine what this lock-down means to me… Provided that our attitude is determined by our perception and mindset, I decided to change them. Change them in a way to serve the purpose of my survival. Ok, that is too strong. My mental sanity.

One of the first things I made was to switch to observation mode, which means that I consciously distanced myself from the daily difficulties and negative feelings. At least, I was confident about doing so… Nonetheless, I tried to live my life a bit like a live experiment. Whatever it means. 

To start with the most important, I was looking for some images to illustrate my expected findings, from isolation, distancing, depression, loneliness, to support, cooperating, sympatheticism and tolerance. When browsing around the stock photos and my own portfolio, one thing has become clear: expressions like support, cooperation, help, understanding, all are somehow associated – and thus visualized and illustrated – with closeness and mostly also touch. Though different kinds.

Five weeks  later, I am here and summarizing my observations. Despite of the suggestions flowing out of the media about how cool it is to keep contact by means of different devices,  the bare truth is: 

Human connections are associated with physical closeness. Our language is one of the evidences: we give a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, we embrace things, sheltering each-other from bad things, hold others in our arms or read from their eyes. And so on. Can we expect this to change? 

Several articles comment on the role of social media in the everyday life of the younger generations. Although, the original concept was to help to keep connections despite of geographical distance, provide space, and thus opportunity for talented people and also to make information-sharing quicker and cheaper, negative consequences are inevitable. Addiction, feeling of deprivation, anxiety, depression, besides bullying, rudeness, humiliation coming through. Being exposed to and relying on the virtual connections beyond a certain extent can very easily lead to the loss of connection with reality and difficulties to comply with real (means not virtual) social (or human?) norms. Is this what we really need to become more widespread? 

I remember those articles explaining how important cuddles, strokes, small daily intimate things, thus bonding, are in terms of the emotional development of a child, and also those examples where the lack of it may lead. In a positive case, we are isolated together with our closest relatives, or at least the separation lasts for a relatively short period (due to some illness or a travel difficulty, etc.). Nonetheless, we all are part of a larger context: our families, friends and other social relationships, where physical closeness has its well-defined – though different –  role. Can it really be replaced by virtual hugs, video calls, emojis and social media appearance? 

My understanding is that the answer may be very different when it comes to the time period, the frequency, the extent and the level of distance to be kept. I try to discover it as it evolves and to share my thoughts here. 

This is a new reality. It is – at least – said to be. Noone knows what exactly this novelty will be manifested in, though we all have some guesses. We are still living under the restrictions and hope for the ending. Soon. Whatever ‘soon’ means in this context. 

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