Human interaction is for most of us, one of the main ways we thrive, it’s what inspires us to interact further, and do the things we do. Inevitably during the current lockdown, most of us have lost our basic outlets of physical and human contact. In this time, digital communication can be both a lifeline and a gateway to some form of normality, if done right.
There has never been a time than now, when so many people are reliant on digital communication, ranging across different demographics around the world. I think one of the saddest thing's for Covid-19 patients, is that they can’t have their loved ones by their bedside. However, with the NHS staff in hospitals working to ensure patients and their loved ones can phone one another and stay in touch, these calls provide vital clarity and a moment to connect, despite the physical distance.
For most of us in lockdown, social distancing has worrying ramifications for our natural inclination towards affection and emotional interaction. Personally, I don’t know what I’d do without my friends, although multiple Zoom quiz’s each week will suffice for now, it’s extremely easy to lose yourself amidst social distancing. So, if you’re not finding yourself, please don’t fret, because contrary to what posts on social media might be telling you, most people are struggling in their own unique and private way.
Photo by Christopher Fernandez (2020)
As a public ‘note to self’, and hopefully some advice for others, I have put together some boundaries for digital communication during lockdown:
Cut the noise
Deciding to turn your phone off for a few hours is healthy. Sometimes the continuous white noise of WhatsApp group chats can get relentless, with the same memes circulating between your respective group chats. Although they provide a light-hearted saving grace; an opportunity to make some subtle yet necessary humour to get through the current situation, with a personal favourite being the Wembley Lasagne. It’s okay not to be responsive all the time, especially as big group chats can become overwhelming with the 24-hour stream of hourly coronavirus updates and messages.
Prioritise your screen time
If you say you’re free all the time, you could get calls left, right and centre. Just because we’re on lockdown, some people may assume that others will respond faster and for me, this has created a sense of pressure. Planning ahead with digital communication is key if you are prone to subconsciously letting your phone command your day.
Whilst you can set digital boundaries, scheduling things you can do with friends; an evening Zoom call, Houseparty or Netflix party, can give you more of a routine when trying to prioritise your screen time. Although there has been recent headlines about the shocking and questionable misuses of Zoom, I don’t think hackers will have much to gain from watching my late-night zoom quiz about Tiger King.
(Zoom tip: make a quiz that is universal to all your family or friends, then keep on reusing it until you get sick of it).
Check in with friends regularly
Despite the increase in online communication which almost everyone is experiencing, this doesn’t necessarily mean those around you aren’t lonely. The absence of human interaction completely shifts the dynamic of a conversation, and our communication with others can lose its emotional depth. If you can, try to dig deeper when looking out for others mental health during self-isolation and lockdown. Asking friends how their days have looked and what coping mechanisms they are using is a great place to start.
The pressure to appear productive on social media is still lingering despite over a month of lockdown in the UK. Social media is the breeding ground for motivational pressure, and acts as place to prove you’re using your time wisely. Everyone is coping amidst the pandemic in their own and unique way, and so are you. I find it helpful to remind myself that my day doesn’t need validation from anyone but me, and my only criteria for a good day is doing one activity where I find joy. At the moment for me, this is usually dancing.
Some links - if you have time, and feel like doing (free) things that might provide some joy:
Dance: (7-day free trial for beginners to advanced, multiple styles)
Fashion: Christian Dior designer of dreams exhibition online at the V&A
Google Arts and Culture Frida Kahlo Exhibition
Before the lockdown hit, I don’t think I fully contemplated how much time I spent seeing friends and going out. This is where social media and digital communication comes in: to fill a void of lost interaction. These mediums have quickly moved in to substitute and maintain our friendships and relationships, ever more than before. Digital interaction can become a lifeline during this time, if we don’t let it overwhelm or dictate our days.