As It Turns Out, We Still Need Each Other
You learn a lot about humanity during a crisis. You learn even more during a global pandemic.
Before this whole thing started taking shape, I think it’s fair to say that we had our generation figured out. We self-identified as a pretty independent bunch. An unflappable cohort who had endured their formative years during the global financial crisis and made peace with the fact that we would be the ones to mitigate the effects of climate change and rigged political systems largely created by the generations before us. See? Unflappable and independent. And part of our independence was conflating digital communication with real connection. Even when words like “self-isolating” and “social-distancing” started entering the conversation, we didn’t immediately feel their weight. I mean, as an introvert I was pretty sure I’d been self-isolating for years. Yes, we’ve always known that talking in a WhatsApp group isn’t going to be the same as sitting around a dinner table, but as long as we had the option to do both then we were okay to choose the former over the latter. As long as 50% of our interactions happened face-to-face, we were cool with the other 50% taking place over Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter.
But it is freedom to choose to be alone – it is terrifying to be told that we must. And so now we find ourselves in this strange new reality, shocked to discover that when retreating is enforced and not chosen, we actually fucking hate it.
And what a relief that is! What a goddamn relief that we’re not as independent as we thought we were. That even after all this time, humanity still hasn’t changed its one fundamental truth: people need people.
Those mundane human interactions that carry us through our daily lives; bumping into someone at the supermarket, kissing your partner goodbye in the morning, reading a bad day on a friend’s face by the way their eyebrows draw together and the corners of their mouth turn down, walking to get your coffee with the same colleague every day, these are the insignificant examples of what it means to be a participant in the world, and I’m so glad we miss them. Because it means that when we come out the other side of this thing (which we will, by the way), we might just enjoy them.
Even the introverts.