Most of my life, I’ve learned not to rely on social media, and to view digital connection as inferior to human contact: to be present in the moment, to focus on in-person interaction and to value the impact of a warm embrace. However, what happens when you can no longer hug your friends, celebrate a momentous life transition with a party to remember, or create memories that are worth putting down the phone for? What happens when your life becomes a series of online interactions, and your ability to connect with others starts to rely on the strength of your own internet connection? How do you make memories, and how do you live in the moment? How do you seek out moments of intimacy when the safety of your community relies on its nonexistence?
Over the past few months, my go-to methods of maintaining emotional balance have shifted, and my perception of self-care, independence, and healthy habits have had to change. Even with roommates around, I’ve learned to find peace in my own passions, take pauses, and be kinder to myself. I’ve spent more time in silence than I have in the bustling streets waiting for buses, listening to loud music and trying to pass the time. I’ve tended to new house plants that never would have thrived otherwise, and I’ve found myself being able to spend more time online with people that I otherwise only would have passed in the halls on my way to work. I’ve found myself making more of an effort to reach out, being okay with Zoom calls that run a little long and go off on tangents, and realizing the emotional impact of an intentional video call. I’ve found new friends and appreciated sides of people that only come out in the most vulnerable of moments, getting to hear about real-life struggles that usually get pushed to the side. I’ve learned to find a new joy in remote contact, rather than trying to convince myself that it can replace the intimacy we can no longer have.
In times like these, it’s hard to find a balance: whether you’re sick of completely virtual interaction and are longing for the days where you can freely socialize in person, or you’re finding solace in the much needed alone time, social distancing has taught us to reflect: to value what a little effort can do for otherwise neglected relationships, and to use the jarring silence that follows the end of a zoom call to focus on what really makes us happy. Rather than focusing on the quality of communication and loss of intimacy, we can find solace in new connections that otherwise may have been left behind. We can hold hope for a future in which we realize the need for a balance between these two worlds, and appreciate the power of an intentional call – no matter the distance.