As I write this blog, COVID-19 is a raging fire across the globe. The world as we know it has ceased to exist in the past month and if things are to be believed, it will be several months before normalcy is established. Having said that, ‘Normalcy’ itself is going to mean something entirely new. Some of the words that have echoed through the world are ‘Infodemic’, ‘Pandemic’, ‘Quarantine’, ‘Isolation’, ‘Lockdown’, ‘Flattening the Curve’ and the most important one – ‘Social distancing’.
With stringent norms prescribed across the globe for social distancing, neighborhoods have transformed into alleys of circles and squares with a minimum distance of 6-feet, hands covered in gloves and faces hidden behind masks. This is the new normal.
While the need of the hour is social distancing, it does beg the question if we are socially distancing ourselves as well? Just a couple of months ago, the popular media was rife with articles and theories of how technology is destroying the very fabric of being human by having people glued to their gadgets and social media platforms all the time.
Suddenly, the very same mechanisms have become life-savers in a world of social distancing. There is a sudden surge of virtual rooms where people are beginning to catch up for ‘virtual tea’, ‘virtual games’, ‘virtual catch-up’, ‘virtual-xxx’ etc., It seems like the whole world has taken refuge of the myriad technology platforms at their disposal in the name of staying connected.
Let us pause for a second. It’s been over 2 weeks that some of us have been in the confines of our homes OR neighbourhoods. The initial euphoria of freedom from the drudgery of work, commute, social interactions, hustle-bustle and melancholies of life is beginning to wane. We are beginning to miss the human-to-human interaction, the experience of holding a conversation, catching-up over a coffee/beer and pretty much everything that we are trying to experience virtually.
Social media accounts are running out of content with 90-95% of the information that is being exchanged is about COVID-19, old pictures and memories are attracting fewer likes, the interest around ‘staying connected’ is becoming a chore and in many cases leading to fatigue.
It almost seems like we are coming full-circle on being a social animal. I looked back at what we were taught in schools, and here’s what I found ‘Man is a social animal because his nature makes him so. Sociality or Sociability is his natural instinct. He can’t but live in society. All his human qualities such as to think to enquire to learn language, to play and work only developed in human society. All this developed through interaction with others.’.
It may still be argued that all of our technology paraphernalia is allowing us to remain in contact with the world; the real question is, are we now entering a realm of realization that the real joy of life lies in our inherent ability to interact in-person at a human-to-human level and in sharing all the wonderful joys of life through collective experiences. Food for thought.
As always, would love to hear your perspective and thoughts on this and related subjects. Needless to say; stay safe, practice social distancing without being socially distant!