There is a lot of adjustment required right now. We’ve had to get used to so many new things at once. Amongst the changes has been a radical change in the way that we interact with other human beings. We are not socializing with people in the ways that we normally do.
But we are social creatures, and we long for connection. So, we’re looking for ways to recreate parts of our pre-pandemic social life. We might be able to use video chat programs to do a virtual version of some of the things that we used to do together in-person. But for those of us who have been highly distanced for the last few weeks, even though technology opens up the possibility of virtual normalcy, something feels ominous about going back to a version of normal life while the pandemic continues.
For those of us who have been both social distancing by staying at home and who have also not had the built-in social interaction that people who telework regularly get, we’ve ended up being quite acutely isolated. Many of us in this situation have only been regularly communicating with our closest friends and family. The prospect of suddenly engaging in group activities with anybody but our closest friends can produce a spike in anxiety.
There’s a comforting idea that has been circulating in relation to teleworking, which I think could be useful to keep in mind when socializing from home as well.
In teleworking, the idea is: you are not working from home; you are at home during a crisis trying to work
Translating that into the context of socializing from home, we might say: we are not socializing from home, we are at home trying to (virtually) socialize during a crisis
There’s a reason why the group zoom chats feel so weird — and it’s not just that the little technical bumps are jarring. We’re in an extremely disoriented position, and we’re trying to make the best of it.
We do yearn for connection, though. So, we can let ourselves face the discomfort and gradually step back into an experience of socializing during this pandemic, through the virtual tools available to us.
But while we gradually return to some parts of socializing, through virtual means, we need to be easy on ourselves. We need to be patient. Adjusting will take time.
It’s okay that it feels disorienting. It’s okay that it’s not quite the same. It’s something. And with time, it will hopefully not feel quite so disorienting.
In the meantime, we can notice that it’s kind of disorienting, and continue on. We don’t have to live in denial of how fundamental of a shift this is.