Social Isolation: Apart When We Need Each Other the Most

As much of America experiences another week of social isolation, citizens are showing they are coping creatively in many fun, charming, and interesting ways.

Despite a global pandemic that continues unabated and that is ravaging many US cities, Americans at home are showing that the old American know-how can still get a laugh and a chuckle even during dire times. Short videos on Instagram and Tik Tok have folk of all ages participating and laughing at cooking exploits, animal hijinks, and of course babies and kids doing what they normally do.

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(Image: 81-year-old ‘Old Man Steve’ has taken over TikTok with adorable cooking videos, proving TikTok isn’t JUST for teens…)

There are even cringy-laughable mom and dad dance routines that on occasion guest star grandma and grandad.

Humor as national therapy is about the best Americans can hope for as the federal government led by incompetent Donald T. is a cesspool of lies, anger, deflection, and thievery – and those are the best attributes of a government more interested in profiteering and seeing to it that the absolute worst actions are chosen and executed.

With a daily “briefing” that is as offensive in its delivery as it is incorrect in the data that is shared, Americans deserve a break from the horror of now more than 11,000 deaths of their fellow citizens.

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(Trump is now up to 1,990 false claims since July 8, when we started our counting at CNN. He is averaging about 59 false claims per week. – CNN stats from March 2020)

With many privileged workers granted the ability to work from home, Americans have time to absorb almost minute to minute details of virus-related deaths, State and Federal decrees, and local and national news up to the minute stories. The stories show the depth of the crisis in sobering voiceover video of overworked hospital workers, crowded hallways and, worst of all, piled up body-bags.

After the news, when the funny videos are on pause, and when work conference calls have ended, Americans do what people the world over do and have done: call to check on loved ones, to reassure loved ones, and to update loved ones on the latest death tally, cures, government malfeasance, and other virus-related news.

And occasionally we all reach out to that one person who rebuffs our efforts to share information and/or collect information. We are met with statements such as:

  • I do not want to hear about what is going on;
  • I know what is happening so I don’t need to know anymore;
  • I only check in once a week because that is all I can handle, and;
  • you are talking about it so much you are contributing to the hysteria.

What to make of those who appear to have little to no interest in a major global pandemic unseen on these shores in over one-hundred years?

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Are they okay? Is it “normal” to be disinterested in such a deadly and catastrophic event that has impacted all of our lives?

“Just because you are a news and pandemic junkie doesn’t mean your loved one or friend is.”

Are people who angrily tell you to stop telling them about the pandemic selfish, self-centered, and only interested in their own health and well-being?

Well, yes. And no. Social isolation on a country-wide scale is unusual and can be a real challenge for some people.

Grandparents videochatting with granddaughters

It’s more than introverts vs. extroverts, single vs. family, city vs. rural. The call to isolate and the need some people have to intake as little bad news as possible presents unique challenges to those whose mental health depends on the right balance of friends, bad news, work, bad news, self-care, bad news. Just because you are a news and pandemic junkie doesn’t mean your loved one or friend is.

You get the point.

And it goes deeper when we consider that a significant portion of society is undergoing a drastic decrease is physical touching. Not only sex, but the day to day touching – from handshakes to hugging, to gentle arm touches. Such delicate contacts also contribute to physical and mental health and wellbeing.

We are touching less and the national and personal impact of disconnecting so thoroughly will be studied for many years as sociologists study both short and long-term impacts to forced imbalance.

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Each person experiences balance differently resulting in different needs required for personal happiness and satisfaction.

And balance doesn’t mean equal.

More than ever Americans are being tasked with knowing themselves and knowing what works to alleviate stress, worry, sleepless nights, fear, and anger. What works for you is not what works for your best friend, or your partner, or your young or older children.

We each need to listen to one-another so that we can respect each other’s needs and boundaries in respectful ways that also allow for properly allocated care and concern.

“How we adjust to a reality that forces us apart at a time when we need each other more than ever will be the true measurement of our success.”

Your older parents require different attention than your high school kid on an extended break from school and, equally important – from their friends.

And it is not only words that must be guarded.

We need to guard dumping information on loved ones who do not wish to take in so much. Learning and re-learning boundaries – even when forced by a globe-shaking pandemic, can be healthy as we get know one another better.

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Extended social isolation is an unexpected duty thrust upon a mostly unsuspecting society used to passive touching and professional handshakes. How we adjust to a reality that forces us apart at a time when we need each other more than ever will be the true measurement of our success.

After the pandemic flattens and the world and country returns to a type of new normal, the time we spent isolated can be seen as a time of reconnection through shared trauma and mourning. A time when we collectively recognized the value in necessity of our shared need to understand and identify with each other’s personal and emotional needs.

© 2020 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved. 

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