(Published in CNN Philippines / Jilson Tiu)
Events succeeding the lockdown had me reflecting on life and helped me draw the conclusion that the saying “the beauty of life is its fragility’’ is true after all. I no longer take note of the countless notifications on my phone and the never ending calls from friends and family members. Whenever I do dare to pickup my phone and log into any of the social media platforms, I am first greeted by either people venting out their frustration on how boring it gets staying all by oneself at this time or with varying videos, information and even the use of memes to educate the public on how to reduce the spread of the virus, all thanks to COVID 19.
It is most surprising to hear folks who often pride themselves as the inventors of solitude before the lockdown beginning to take on a new identity because the former no longer pass as strength. Enjoying ones personal space, sleeping and working remotely not having to complain about traffic aren’t luxuries any longer. Now, people yearn for those things they complained about before. My friend wishes she was in her office because she was craving for human contact. She stated that as much as she hates to admit it, working with her colleagues wasn’t as miserable as she thought it was. She realized how the stress of commuting everyday to work was part of life, and that she could not wait to get back to work. I giggled, and the only word I can mutter was “you may be surprised by what you come up with when boredom strikes ‘’. Even though I am beginning to question that utterance myself because ever since the lockdown, I have been in search of the “dopamine feel” I get leaving my house everyday to go get things done. Unfortunately, my new found routine is not fulfilling that very purpose.
Paradoxically, I found out that our attachment to our phones which has always been our way of trying to find stimulation now gives us an overdose of the anxiety and boredom. We find ourselves constantly trying to swipe and scroll the boredom away, but in doing that, we actually discovered that its making us more prone to boredom thus one would say that our tolerance for boredom has reached its peak and we now need more and more to stop being bored. This is worse for people who at this time live alone and have no one to have a face-to-face conversation with which helps in getting the mind off phone addiction.
(Published in The Star/REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
All of the gloom and doom aside, good can also be seen in the weirdest of times. Although the human mind has a tendency to spin off into unproductive cycles of worrying and wondering, my mind got the much needed perspective on the value of human interaction, solidarity and the unending search for meaning as the world faces a common enemy known as COVID-19. Presently our global family is at war with a virus and the unprecedented challenges posed by this virus have forced countries and cities to shut down, borders to close, and people to isolate and social distance to prevent themselves from becoming the source of transmission. Therefore it wouldn’t be wrong if one worries about the impact and consequences of this new imperative on human interaction and relationship. It’s no longer news that the past several decades witnessed a decline in our relational interaction given the way humans have undeniably tried to bypass all forms of human interaction and finding novel ways of forming relationships.
We have become so electronically connected and so relationally disconnected given that our lifestyles are ever more transient and reliant on digital tools. Further disassociating or disrupting our relational interaction as we self-quarantine, we find ourselves taking a step back to appreciate human interaction and social gatherings . Just like John Ortberg stated, we would agree now that ‘’we’d be better to eat Twinkies together than to eat broccoli alone’’, he obviously read our minds because we cannot have our already broken and divided relationship get worse or more consequential after the COVID-19 exploit.
I am quite positive that this will shape our culture and our approach to relational interaction in the coming years. The effect won’t only be seen on how we interact henceforth but the extraordinary shock to our system that the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing has the potential to harness a new sense of solidarity, patriotism and love of community .
We shouldn’t have waited for a pandemic to realize that we live in one world and that social inequality, climate change and equity issues will hurt us all equally. We now know better that the choices we make on a day-to-day bases to fulfill our personal needs could be the difference between life and death for someone else. Our global family now heeds and obeys the call for solidarity, such a good time to wake up from slumber.
Published: April 30, 2020
Written by Nnedi Aghanya, active WYA member & current intern of WYA Asia Pacific.
Read our WYA President’s Statement of Solidarity amidst the COVID-19 Global Pandemic here.