A different kind of connection
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s pretty amazing how well we’ve actually been able to adapt to all the changes in this COVID world we are living in. While some of us may have been hit very hard (and we have all faced some forms of challenges), I find it quite inspiring to see how business owners, schools, community programs, etc., have all been able to alter the way they function to try to continue and serve the community during this pandemic. I know it hasn’t been easy, but it has forced people to be creative and critical thinkers, and I think we’re all coming out of this more prepared and equipped for different challenges in our future.
For people like myself, who haven’t personally been sick, I think it’s the social changes that have had the biggest impacts on our lives. The required social distancing is not normal or comfortable. When I was suddenly given this restriction, all I wanted to do was spend time with my friends. I actually think that, in some way, I’m coming out of this period of isolation as a more social person! Partly, I think it’s because I’ve realized how much I really took for granted my social interactions. But I’ve also discovered ways to modify connecting with others.
Early on in the pandemic, I remember hearing about the importance of not giving into social distancing (wait for it) but rather that we must physically distance, as social distance/isolation could be detrimental to our mental health and general well-being. As a young person who, prior to the pandemic, was at school with friends, at work, doing an internship, and spending time with my boyfriend, I was so used to being around people every day. The sudden isolation was almost eerie. However, as our world started to adapt, it became clear that we needed each other more than ever and we found many ways to keep social and connected remotely.
At first, I think the world was fixated on the fact that we couldn’t be together physically, and we were just desperately trying to hang onto normal life. But when we saw how our schools and jobs could adapt to functioning remotely, we began to adopt those tools for our social lives as well. It was kind of surprising that even our regular “Gen Z” social media habits didn’t seem enough for us anymore! My friends and I started thinking of ways that we could get together safely, so we set up Zoom parties for virtual gatherings. These remote parties got pretty creative – it wasn’t just a group of people all chatting on a video call. We found tons of games that could be played online in conjunction with our Zoom call. We’ve played things like Cards Against Humanity, trivia games and Psych. Our calls are full of laughter and I’ve actually caught up with some people that I haven’t spoken to for months!
This definitely isn’t the perfect replacement for in-person social interaction, but it sure is a heck of a lot better than going without any social connections at all. I can’t imagine what it has been like for people living in long term care or those who needed to stay completely isolated. I have been so lucky that I live with my family, that I’m young and health, and that a trip out of the house just to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy doesn’t leave me at a higher risk.
As we learned more about this virus and found out that the risk of contracting it outdoors is significantly lower, we were able to shake up our gatherings. Like many other people, my friends and I started doing bike rides. Being that on a bike, you are pretty much required to be at least two meters from the next person. Our first ride was on one of the early warm days of summer and our overly ambitious selves decided that, for the first ride since we were all roughly 13-years-old, we should ride the TransCanada Trail all the way to Sunderland. Safe to say, as well as giving us lots of time to catch up, we also got in a lot of good exercise and much-welcomed sunshine. We have kept up these rides, almost weekly, and have found a new hobby that we all really enjoy doing together!
Over the past few months, as being social and keeping connections became something we felt was important to work for, I think we’ve actually become better about scheduling “connecting time.” I know before the pandemic I was so busy, driving here and there, working, doing school work and then just crashing in my downtime, that I didn’t worry so much about seeing my friends and being social. This pandemic has actually given us some extra time and opportunity to connect with people and things that we love. It may be a bit different than the traditional ways we are used to connecting and socializing with others, but our desire to be connected is just as strong as our abilities to adapt, and in our crazy changing world I’m finding it fun to test my creative skills and find different ways of connecting and new things that I enjoy.
Editor’s note: The Uxbridge Cosmos is a host news organization for the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI), a federally funded program aimed at fostering and supporting the creation of civic journalism. The Local Journalism Initiative is intended to support the creation of civic journalism; therefore, LJI reporters are required to cover civic issues and civic institutions such as courthouses, city halls, band councils, school boards, Parliament or provincial legislatures and the like. Ms. Edgell’s stories are shared across the Canada, as LJI stories are available for republication by accredited media organizations across the country through a Creative Commons license, broadening and strengthening the reach of the content and coverage.