I’m not the first person to suggest that our culture will have come to look and be radically different at the other end of this Pause. New ways of doing things will become the norm and much that may previously have been perceived as distancing or obstructive may now be seen as facilitative and powerful.
Watching us, I see the possibility for vast systems of accepted SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) to finally fade into history as our culture accelerates to catch up with technological possibility.
It’s a Forced Evolution and, IMHO, a welcome one.
Already we’ve seen the memes poking fun at all those jobs that have heretofore been colloquially classified as “…not conducive to being done remotely or at home.”
Lo and behold; it turns out that these things more often than not can be done remotely; efficiently and effectively.
For the many who used to resist video meetings, these virtual forums now have become almost the only way to meet; a forced familiarity that I see evolving into comfort as people are seeing familiar faces they have come to miss in only a matter of weeks…and as the ease of operating these apps and platforms is realized and embraced.
So, here’s what I’m seeing…and maybe predicting…
I see a lot of good coming out of this “stay-at-home / lockdown” period through which we are going.
People are discovering their actual need for human contact…for nurturing through human communication and interaction. Staying home in what may at the outset have seemed like a welcome oasis of peace and self nurturing has become for many – after a mere few weeks – a prison of isolation.
So people dance for one another, they sing, they create and are sharing…themselves.
Screens as Portals.
For so many for so long – especially in particular demographics, screens have been held and characterized as soulless and obstructive; virtual barriers to personal contact, impersonal sappers of energy and life. I think, though, that this has begun to subtly transform from screens being perceived as impediments to being treated as the portals they are; exponentially accelerated at this moment of crisis.
The nuance is that, given burgeoning ubiquity and flexibility of these bright surfaces, the humanity on the other side of the screen is more readily being seen and appreciated with nothing having really changed but our individual, personal perception through the medium.
No longer are things considered to be on-screen so much as being through the screens.
Does that make sense?
You may have seen the Rotterdam Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” with each musician playing from home in synch with each other to create something that became, ultimately, profoundly moving.
This group-video technique that not so long ago may have been seen more as Gimmick is now, newly, revealed to offer a deeper, personal & emotional connection: with no alteration to the medium, only the context.
The barrier has gone; the people are the experience. Screens perceived as hard barrier is set to evolve into them being embraced as the windows of opportunity that they are.
First and foremost; I sense that people are (re)discovering our innate need for human contact. What may have seemed an oasis of alone time at the front end has become, in short order, a period of people’s seeking and finding ways and reasons to reach out and connect with with one another.
With that, what is happening, now, seems to be a heightened perception of others – other people – as individuals; separate and apart from genetic, philosophical, even political differences. Within this exponentially-growing phenomenon are people presenting themselves in video released to the world as samples and examples of their most intimate selves: we see people dancing, singing, sharing hobbies and interests, offering anecdotes and personal coping mechanisms without a political word being spoken.
Seems an auspicious beginning; perhaps a reawakening. Irrespective of disparate political perspectives; anyone can do something nice for a neighbor…and we’re doing that. It’s happening.
Along with all this personal sharing seems to be an appreciation for just how easy it is to do or say something comforting or nice; the ease with which a simple gesture can be made to enhance the life of another person and the willingness of myriad individuals to reach out and join others in ad hoc acts of positivity.
If you see someone, say something…
Just today, at the local Smith’s grocery store (I have escaped to the Mountains of Utah to ride this out with My Guy; physical proximity and ready access to loving arms is a tremendous stress-reliever), as I passed-by an employee restocking one of the deli cases. I gave her a nod and said, “Hey, thanks for working on the front lines. I appreciate being able to come here and get groceries. YOU…are appreciated.”
Stopped her cold.
She said that is the first time anyone has said anything like that to her…or to anyone in the store, as far as she knows. We talked (from a distance!) about her grandchildren, wearing masks, stress and acknowledgement, what’s next. Good encounter.
A few moments later and a few yards away, I was chatting up the ladies behind the cheese counter (from a distance) when my new friend came over just to repeat to me how much my comment had meant to her. The two asked the one what she was talking about and in no time there was a cacophony of “You’re awesome!” “No, YOU’RE Awesome!!” “Keep smiling!” “I will if you will!”
We all parted company in great spirits.
This took nothing.
We’ve Been Here, Before
In retrospect: the magnitude of AIDS deaths can be hung on a government and a President (Reagan, lest we forget) who not only did not care; but those in power would laugh and joke behind not-always-closed doors that “…those people deserve it…”
This time, it’s really not so different.
We have a government that does not care about the wellbeing of vast numbers of citizens, multiplied by the breathtaking ignorance and incompetence that festers, grows and infects the chambers, hallways and offices of governance and power that used to draw respect from most of the world.
Many survivors of the plague of the ’80’s and since remember and continue to deal with the residue and effects of that plague. Though I speak for no one but myself; I’d offer that many of us can share our experiences of how we dealt – and continue to deal with – the cruel and invisible randomness of such a fatal thing.
Out of AIDS in the ’80’s came a new community.
I hope to be a part of a nation that finds resonant and powerful, evolved community out of this crisis.
I hope we do find ourselves in a recalibrated reality; with yesterday’s status quo jettisoned in favor of a new, clear-eyed priority for humanity. Assumptions Explored, newly Liberated from Preconceptions and enlightenments successively revealed.
It can happen.
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