Social Connections Amidst A Global Pandemic

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2020 was a year many of us are happy to have left behind. Whatever mindset we are bringing into 2021, it is worth stopping for a second to reflect on how our everyday experiences have changed over a few months. After the first March lockdown came a happy, relaxed summer, only to be followed by a second pre-Christmas lockdown and the chill of coming winter creeping in through the cracks. Written By Barbora Vaclavova

Back in spring, little did we know about how long we were going to have to stay confined in our households and social bubbles. And even though the world might have seemed to come to a halt, life eventually carries on; pandemic or no pandemic.

 As the days rolled on and the initial shock slowly transformed into resignation, we saw changes intended to keep going whatever was left of life as we knew it. Hiding half of our faces away behind masks and standing two metres apart have become the new norms as they ingrained into our minds. And while the future is still looking blurry, the vaccine brings optimism as a potential light at the end of the tunnel.

Even though many significant events in our lives moved to virtual spaces, people still graduated, changed jobs and moved places.
Social media worked in our favour when we could not spend time together in real life. Until now an addition to our social lives (ideally) happening mostly in the physical realm of offices, coffee shops and bars where we had opportunities to meet new people spontaneously, the importance of social media in creating new connections shifted massively.

Laura, originally from Barcelona, decided to move to England amid a global pandemic.
Because she was finding it difficult to meet people with all the limitations and curfew, she reached out through a Facebook group. And she was not the only one, many similar posts appeared from people looking for connections.

“I was born in Barcelona and have lived there all my life, twenty-seven years. The thought of moving to England someday had always been in the back of my mind. Due to the impact of the virus, I was let go from my full-time position as a graphic designer and suddenly found myself with no ties – so I thought, what better time to do it,” Laura tells me about what prompted her. “I knew I had to act fast. I needed to move by the end of 2020 – before the Brexit deal goes through and immigration to England will become nearly impossible.”

For Laura, the chaos of the new ways created space for a fresh start and she took the chance. Other people I have spoken to also had an experience with starting a new job, some more exciting than others.

“I finished my old job in the comfort of my bedroom on a Friday. Next Monday, I started a new one – again, in the comfort of my bedroom,” Jamie reflects on the monotony of working from home. While the four walls do not change much, the array of distractions in a family home can get quite diverse

Liam started a new job as well, more or less remotely. To my question whether he was going to go to the office, he replied: “Once or twice a week to start with – actual human contact!” 

While happy about the new job, Liam found finishing his old one quite underwhelming as there could not be a big send-off like is the company tradition.

“We had a staff change-over around May when everyone was already working remotely. Only recently I realised that although I speak to a lot of these people regularly, only a few of them I have met in person.”The social isolation that came with lockdown has changed many people’s attitudes towards their jobs. What once seemed like a chore is now a special occasion or at least a reason to change from pyjamas.
Tom, who is a teacher, is one of the people who still make the morning commute.
“The job can be hard, and I still moan about it. But at the end of the day I’m feeling very grateful to still have one.”

We were given the opportunity to slow down, whether we liked it or not. Some started appreciating their friends more – making more effort and getting closer after they had a taste of what it feels like to be apart. That might be not taking ages to reply to a text or listening to someone mindfully; Sam and her friend even picked up the good old letter writing.
The year may have changed, but the situation stays the same. All we can do is carry on, stay compassionate towards others as well as ourselves and hope for the best.

 

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