It is clear that these are unbelievably unprecedented times. It almost feels patronising to say that, and in saying that am only saying what has already been said a million times. But, these simply are unprecedented times. And, as someone who likes to write content about current affairs and politics especially, it is almost impossible to pen something that isn’t directly associated to the Coronavirus pandemic. I have been talking to friends and family, searching for something original to write, but am left without any non-COVID-19-related content.
Consequently, it was in talking to friends, and especially family members, that I found inspiration for this post. This Global pandemic is a tough time for all; the news now is barely more than a running death toll. So I’ve been looking for silver linings, things to keep me positive. And it has been the frequent contact with others via social media that has been one of the most beneficial sources of enjoyment and positivity.
We are all self-isolating and socially distancing. Banned from public meetings; the public places where we would traditionally congregate are closed. This would lend itself to one assuming that the amount of socialising is in decline. However, my experience has been the exact opposite. I have been speaking over Facebook Messenger video calls daily, been involved in several ‘Pub Quizzes’, and even have ‘phoned a friend’ to help find answers for some general knowledge crosswords. The frequency of this contact, especially with my family, who live in various different places across the country, has only increased since the Quarantine has begun.
Now, although this virtual contact over social media can never be the same as actual face-to-face contact, I find that the forced social distancing measures have encouraged us all to keep in touch with one another, perhaps even more than we would have if we actually were able to meet them for a coffee or a pint.
Many debate about the impact of social media. Is it a force for good or bad? Now this post is not attempting to settle that extremely complex debate. However, during these difficult times, I would like to think it is on balance serving as a force for good; bringing families and friends together in times of need. Sure, we used to be able to communicate over the landline or by other means, but a virtual quiz amongst 14 people with photo and music rounds would not be possible without the use of social media. During this Quarantine, moments of happiness and enjoyment like that are fundamental. Social media has enabled that, making this experience a whole lot easier.
Finally, this almost paradoxical increase in socialising whilst socially distancing and isolating has led me to self-reflect and re-assess. Before this pandemic took hold, we all had here in the UK an almost unlimited amount of choice when it came to what we could do with our free-time. Every weekend we could try something new, visit somewhere new, or meet new people in new scenarios. It is only in having that freedom taken away from me that I have re-discovered the sanctity of family.
We can be greedy and selfish, myself included, pursuing our own interests, ambitions and opportunities, with the result being a decrease in time you spend with those nearest and dearest to you. Having those opportunities temporarily struck off the to-do list has made me realise the significance of family and the importance of keeping in contact with them on a regular basis. I just hope that we can all continue in this vein after this pandemic comes to an end in the future…
Only time will tell…