Has Social Distancing Actually Brought Us Closer Together?
Thank goodness for technology, right? Imagine a lockdown without video chat, social media community groups, remote working, and access to news on demand… We’d be bored, out of touch and probably would’ve forgotten what our loved ones looked like by now!
Sure, our smartphones could never replace a good hug, a reassuring touch, physical teamwork, a lively pub atmosphere, or brand new baby cuddles (eek!). But in many ways, we’re extremely lucky to be alive when physical distance is no barrier to communication, and keeping in touch using our digital devices is already a normal part of life. And, whether or not you believe that technology, social media and email is a hindrance to our basic human need for face-to-face connection (and our ability to switch off), most of us would admit we couldn’t live without our devices, especially during this period of social isolation.
While lockdown has meant having to stay away from loved ones, working by ourselves, concealing our faces with masks, avoiding face-to-face interactions and crossing the road if we see another human coming towards us, it feels like we have somehow all become closer. But is it our smartphones that have brought us together during lockdown? Or is it something deeper and more complex than simply being able to keep in touch?
We at the Content Wolf Magazine believe it’s down to a combination of wonderful things.
We are huge kindness advocates, and the sheer amount of kind gestures, thought for others, offers of help and reaching out that we have witnessed over these past weeks has had us in awe and truly restored our faith in humanity. We all have it in us, deep down! Staying at home has seen our neighbours have become allies – friends, even, as we’ve had time to get to know them. Community help groups have sprung up all over Facebook, offering help with shopping, local advice and information. And we even heard of several Covid-19 community groups spreading joy by going house to house on Easter day, delivering supermarket-donated chocolate eggs to the local children, dressed up as bunnies.
More of the feel-good factor has come in the form of people helping parents with creative resources and ideas for homeschooling; young people going shopping for their elderly or vulnerable neighbours, friends and relatives. It really has brought out the best in people, and it’s uplifting to see so much hope and positivity coming out of adversity. We believe witnessing kindness has got to be as nourishing to the soul as practising it ourselves.
United in gratitude
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson
While most of the country has come to a standstill, we’ve had time to reflect and recognise the key workers we actually rely on the most (and many of whom get paid the least). It goes without saying just how thankful we all are to the NHS, scientists, pharmacists, carers, volunteers, the forces, farmers, distributors, supermarket workers, couriers and posties. We’re all united in appreciating the importance of our key workers for keeping the country running and healthy. Spotting painted rainbows in windows, clapping on our doorsteps and banging pots and pans every Thursday evening to show our gratitude has lifted the nation by uniting us in celebration while we’re forced to stay apart.
Photo by Jess Bailey
What new things have you tried during lockdown? Have you found yourself feeling super inspired over the past few weeks, like us? They say a change is a good as a rest, and the lockdown constraints seem to have got many of us thinking outside the box, taking time to reflect on the things we love, and coming up with ways of keeping things interesting during these restricted times. We’ve been hearing about lots of new hobbies, new walking discoveries nearer to home, people getting together for virtual pub quiz nights, playing solo beer pong, and even a virtual wedding, all bringing people together in unprecedented ways.
Those of us with more time on our hands seem to be feeling inspired, mindful and discovering new passions for simpler things like admiring nature, baking banana bread (a popular one here at The Content Wolf Magazine!), enjoying family activities, and crafting. Exchanging recommendations, tips and general chit chat about the interests we have in common helps us bond and form meaningful connections.
Similarly, we’ve found it really interesting to see how businesses have diversified and got creative with their offerings over these past few weeks, adapting the ways they operate in order to continue serving customers (and maintain an income). Ingenuity is flowing, community spirit is abundant, and we seem to be supporting our smaller, independent businesses more than ever, with one of the most notable trends seeing more people using local businesses like farm shops to get their essential supplies – naturally, creating stronger ties within the community.
Parents, too, have had to get creative and adapt to juggling working from home with educating their kids and keeping them entertained at a time when going to the park or off for a day trip is not possible. Having to spend more time with the little ones has created an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen parental and sibling bonds through alternative ways of learning, more creative play, increased family time and shared experiences.
Photo by Axel Holen
We’re all just human beings trying to navigate the unknown as best we can, and whether that means getting our head down and making the most of an opportunity to pursue something new, or simply taking each day as it comes with slow consciousness and regular self-care, we must choose to spend this time in whichever way makes us feel most safe.
As humans, if we feel threatened, we tend to feel more in control when we know there are things we can do personally to make a positive difference. So, during these uncertain times, when there is so much out of our control, just the simple act of washing our hands thoroughly is reassuring for both our psychological wellbeing and our physical health.
Supporting each other through common stresses, uncertainty, overwhelm and adapting to the temporary ‘normal’ are all bringing us closer together – not only because of this shared experience, but also because listening and helping one another strengthens our relationships generally. What we see on social media can lead us to think that other people’s lives are perfect and they’ve got it together, but that’s so often not the case. None of us has been through this crisis before; none of us knows how best to navigate it. We are all just doing the best we can. And that’s all we can ever ask of ourselves. Going through the same challenges all together means we are more likely to be honest with each other about how well we are coping.
Photo by Andrew Neel
Nothing puts the size of our planet into perspective quite like a global pandemic. In a world where countries continue to fight one another over religion, politics and oil, Covid-19 is one battle where we’re all on the same side, united against a threat to our very being. We suddenly have a lot more in common with our fellow humans in China, Italy, Germany and the US than perhaps we all would like, oil no longer has a value, and global leaders realise they need to work together for the most positive outcome. Here at The Content Wolf Magazine, we have been wondering how this might change our relationships with other nations in the future. Because surely the planet has got to be a far nicer place to live when we are all united and working together towards the same goals?
Photo by Mario Dobelmann
We’ve suddenly become aware of something much bigger than ourselves. Previously insignificant everyday activities and choices have suddenly entered the forefront of our consciousness and we’ve had to think of others more than ever before. Not only family and friends, but workmates, teammates, neighbours, key workers, the people we cross paths with just once, or every day, and – more significantly – the strangers we’ll never meet.
The simple acts of washing our hands and keeping our distance have become some of the most important things we can do for ourselves and others. This shift in consciousness has got us all being more mindful, slowing down and being highly self-aware, which has got to be a good thing. It’s got us all thinking about others on so many different levels, from concern about vulnerable loved ones, to the nurses on the front line, and from that passenger who coughed on the bus yesterday to the strangers who are still defying the Government’s social distancing rules. We have become hyper-aware of how each of us can impact one another – and we all suddenly feel that bit more closely linked as a result.
All in it together
Photo by Hannah Busing
While we continue to protect our most elderly and vulnerable, the fact that we have recently celebrated (at a safe social distance, of course) the 75th anniversary of VE Day feels quite poignant. They made sacrifices for our freedom during WWII and now we must do all we can to help keep them safe. And, although we may feel like our freedom has been temporarily lost, if we stop and try to draw parallels between now and World War II (as many have done), it becomes very apparent how lucky we really are.
One thing the two periods in history do have in common is that we’re all in this together. Old and young, rich or poor, wherever we live and whatever our occupation – none of that matters. We all know that, for the best outcome and quickest way forward, we all must make sacrifices and work together to help keep the nation safe. There is little more uniting than that.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Photo by Kelly Sikkema
…as the saying goes. Being away from so many of the people who normally feature in our lives has granted us the time to pause and notice those we miss most (and discover who misses us). We’ve been making more effort to check in with one another, to make sure our loved ones are coping with the challenges of the pandemic; and we’ve also had more time simply to chat, catch up, video call, and hang out virtually with our friends and family. We’re ‘seeing’ more of each other now that we are apart, strengthening bonds over virtual quizzes, Facebook challenges, and reconnecting with those we may have neglected in the busyness of life before lockdown. Perhaps closeness is not a physical thing after all?
The big question is, how will all this affect our relationships on the other side?
It’s safe to say the lockdown has helped us to appreciate our friends, family and ‘normal’ lives that little bit more. But how long will it will take for us to feel comfortable in close proximity with others again? Will it feel unnatural at first to hug a friend or loved one we’ve not seen since before the crisis? Will going to the cinema, a festival or even the supermarket (minus distancing measures) feel strange for a while, especially if we are still carrying anxieties about the disease itself?
When we all eventually return to our normal busy lives, and the kids go back to school, we’ll probably miss what time we’ve had for ourselves, the quality time spent with those we live with, and talking more often to the people we love. Granted, we won’t miss juggling working from home with childcare, homeschooling and the growing pile of housework. But for a time, we will hopefully be more mindful of each other, and take our friends, family, health and freedom less for granted. How long will it last beyond lockdown?
Wouldn’t it be nice if it was for always?