Ever since COVID hit, in-person meetings and connections seem to have come to a standstill. Thinking about it, it’s hard for me to remember the last time I went to the movies or ate inside at a restaurant (outdoor dining is available, but it’s still kind of strange eating outside in a parking lot under a tent). The new normal is masks, hand sanitizer, and maintaining a six foot distance between myself and the person in front of me in line at Target.
Social Media Connections
The most difficult adjustment to make has been the need to almost eliminate in-person contact with my friends and family. I’ve been working this whole time during the pandemic so risking exposure to my friends and family wasn’t something I was willing to do. Because of that I had to cancel the trip I had planned to visit my grandparents this year and pretty much stopped hanging out with my friends outside of work. I at least had the option to get some type of human interaction while I was working, but thinking about all of the people that didn’t have that luxury and were stuck spending all of their time with nothing but their television and a window to see what was going on in the outside world was pretty disheartening. Things have gotten better recently with various places reopening with stricter safety guidelines, so it’s not as lonely as it was back in February or March, but I can still only imagine how scary it might be for people, primarily those who are more susceptible to the virus, to think about going back out into the world and facing this “new normal”.
Even with all these changes and restrictions many people, myself included, don’t feel entirely safe visiting their loved ones who are more at risk. A lifesaver I’ve been taking advantage of is social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the ever popular Zoom have been amazing for the past eight months or so since I haven’t been able to see most of my family or friends in person. Granted, trying to explain the concept of Facetime and video chat with older family members might be an experience in itself since they might not be as tech savvy, but the fun you’ll have and the laughs you’ll share trying to figure things out over the phone will be a memory to keep close and cherish forever as well.
It’s funny because it wasn’t even a year ago when it wasn’t uncommon to hear about how social media was ruining the way we communicate and preventing people from making meaningful connections with one another. Now, it’s a primary form of communication. There are so many ways to connect and spend time with one another without having to be in the same room. Take App-based games for example. I can download Monopoly on my phone here in Fresno and play with two or three different friends while they are all in different cities. There are games like Words with Friends or Scrabble that don’t even require people to be playing at the same time.
Games are just the beginning though. Summertime is typically the season for family reunions but with COVD-19 on the prowl huge family gatherings weren’t the best option when it came to safe practices and social distancing. Zoom has been an amazing tool to use when it comes to hosting events with a large number of people. Everyone can talk and laugh all from the comfort of their own home no matter where that home was. Netflix even launched a party option so people could have remote movie nights with their friends and family.
I miss being able to visit my parents, grandparents and other family members in person but I also can’t help but to think that gaining this new medium of communication is a blessing as well. Once the world does begin to better resemble what it was pre-COVID the video chatting and gaming and what not will be a great way to communicate and spend time with one another in between the visits and reunions when everyone is able to be under the same roof. It's the perfect way to feel a little bit closer even when we might be miles apart.