The Economist tapped into the question on how we will interact post-pandemic. After being so self-dependent within the last 12 months – will we ever be able to get back our social skills? Can we interact with people as we used to do? I have recognised similar behaviour in my German surroundings with people being hyper-sensitive when being too close to each other in a supermarket. This seems to be quite common after being in solitude for too long:
„Psychologists who study individuals in solitary confinement, or those living in isolated conditions such as Antarctic research stations, warn that people can become hypersensitive and skittish after spending too long in their own company or with just a few others. Most of our lockdowns haven’t been quite that extreme. But the pandemic has changed our response to the world.“
Being sensitive to the proximity of others is one issue. The other is to keep up a real conversation – especially face to face. While being in a Zoom call people start to do things on the side and can „end meeting“ with just a click. So how to go back to having civilised back and forth conversations in a real meet up?
The author points out that people are quite different in their social reactions within the pandemic. Whereas some seem to suffer from solitude and become unskilled, even taking advantage of withdrawing from interactions – others are actively looking to be better with interactions – especially in their direct vicinity. Noticing you need others to feel human, and that being nice and socialise even a little is a way that pays back.
„Another category of people will emerge from the pandemic more socially adept since, out of a blend of generosity and survival instinct, they’ve strengthened local ties. A single mother in Paris says she has taken to visiting an older woman in her building, out of a new sense of neighbourliness. She’s also nicer to nearby shopkeepers, but that’s because, with a 6pm curfew in France, “it’s in your interest, if you want them to let you in at 5.45.”
As it seems, the conclusion to how we will re-enter social life is: a step-by-step process, not all at once. And some things will be left behind:
„I suspect we’ll all emerge from this year wanting our social lives to look like our newly Marie Kondo-ed wardrobes: fewer interactions, but higher-quality ones. Having fought so hard to conquer the virus, mindless socialising and small talk seem like a waste. Honest, intimate conversations feel precious.“
For the full article – go to the Economist here