Connection During A Pandemic
During COVID-19, with its lockdowns, restrictions, physical distancing, and self-isolation, connecting to each other and the people we care about is more important than ever. Yet our forms of connection and community have turned upside down. We experience skin hunger – the deprivation of touch – alongside Zoom fatigue, from over-connection online. The Office of National Statistics report that at this point in the pandemic, 8% of us are always or often lonely – yet we have full inboxes. Young people aged 16-29 are twice as likely to feel lonely as the over-70s – but we spend hours every day on our phones. Meanwhile, those who care for others may feel touched-out, yet without closeness.
How do we reach each other, in times like these?
When We Put Pen to Paper
Here’s one idea. Amidst daily lives caught between mundanity and overwhelm, many of you tell us that the thump of the post through the letterbox has become a daily highlight. With so much of our study and work taking place online, to send and receive something through the mail grounds us back in the physical world. When we select a card, and feel it tangible in our hands, we picture it in the hands of the receiver. When we hold someone in mind, we remember that we too are held by others.
To put pen to paper is also to ask ourselves what we want to say. Amidst a perfect storm of isolation, boredom, and busyness, we may not know; we may have even forgotten how to ask. But when we hold paper and pen in hand, and the curls, squiggles, and spikes of ink emerge from beneath our fingers, we remember that we are more than pixels on a screen. And when we place ourselves on the page, we see ourselves and others more clearly.