The outbreak of the coronavirus, aka COVID-19, aka “The Rona” (I love my people), has led to widespread isolation as we collectively work to stop the spread of the virus. After watching it shut down an entire region in China, I’m not sure why we were not better prepared to deal with its arrival, but this blog post will not be about the grandiose and epic ways the person occupying the White House and all those loyal to him insist on failing the American people. All I will say is we have to stop electing people who refuse to believe in science.
Part of our containment plan is to practice social distancing. That means avoiding things in large groups, staying home if at all possible, and giving your wifi a workout beyond binge-watching streaming services so you can connect with family, friends, and co-workers. For years we have been hearing how technologies that are supposed to bring us closer together (social media, video chat, etc.) are really just making us less social and less connected. I have always disagreed with those sentiments because we’re very connected, it just looks different. Suddenly, you don’t have to only be connected to those in close proximity. Now you can be connected with the people who love what you love in cities or states or countries around the world. That’s kind of powerful.
But there is a flip side, and maybe that’s what people are talking about when they mention their concerns. As we consume all this information and make connections with people through technology, we still need the ability to process and connect physically with people in person. We still need in person interaction. Even our introverted friends. Nothing compares to the power of touch. We come in this world with an immediate need for it, and we spend our entire lives operating out of a desire to feel it in whatever form it takes.
So, here we are in a world-wide mandate to limit our in person interaction and I am struggling. I actually got sick. I have allergies and asthma and I caught a cold at the most inopportune time I might add. I was told to stay home and quarantine myself from outside contact just in case I was carrying the coronavirus. Naturally, I followed directions. My job required us to all work from home so it wasn’t that big of a deal to make the switch. I recognize that as a profound privilege. I stayed home and isolated myself but after a few days the cold got much worse and before I knew it I was battling a full on respiratory infection. I never developed a fever so I was never tested for the virus (though the doctor said it is very likely I had it) but I had to nurse myself back to health alone. My meds, groceries and supplies were delivered to my doorstep, family and friends checked on me via text and FaceTime and Zoom, I attended church on Facebook Live, and scrolled down my social media feeds to stay updated on what was happening across my city, across the nation and across the world.
Technology can help us solve many of the problems we face but the thing I need most in this time is human touch. I am an extrovert and I used to think being able to connect with people even if we weren’t together was enough. But when I look at how much I have craved human touch during these 11 days of isolation, I have to accept simply connecting is not enough. Hearing the voice or seeing the face is not enough. When this is over, everyone is getting a hug from me. Seriously. Don’t fight it. Just open your arms and receive it!
I often joke that food is my number 1 love language. There is seriously nothing better than food. After this ordeal, I understand that physical touch and food are tied. As much as I love technology and believe in its ability to keep us all connected, it is no replacement for the power of human touch. Sending virtual hugs to the tribe and doing my best to put something beautiful out into the world.