Hate is a strong word that I don’t use very often, but I hate social isolation. Even just the thought of being isolated from family and friends sends a shiver through me. I am an extrovert and other people give me energy. I am a joiner, a planner, and love bringing people together. Social isolation and this extrovert don’t mix well.
I don’t like to talk on the phone and I rarely answer it; instead, I favor texting. However, that all changed when Governor Cuomo said I couldn’t go to work, church, visit friends and family, or attend regular AA meetings. Sadly, all my upcoming crafting retreats were canceled. I had nowhere to go but the rooms of my home, connecting only with my fiancé, Frank, and our pets. While it was lovely the first week, I soon wanted more personal interaction. I craved it.
I heard a lot of people say they have enough online meetings at work, so the idea of getting on Zoom or another video communication platform exhausts them. If you are one of those people, you may want to skip the rest of this post. If you are like me and crave interaction during social distancing, read on!
Zoom and Facebook Live have changed the way I socialized over the past 2 months. I started with my family and weekly Zoom calls. On Sunday nights, Frank and I gather around the computer at 6:00 p.m. to meet with my family and then at 8:00 p.m. to meet with his. I rationalized this as a way our Moms (in their early 80s) could connect with the outside world and see their grandkids. They were both very tech-savvy and needed little support to join these calls (way to go, Gail and Kitsy!). What I soon realized is these calls were more for me than for my family. I needed to see everyone. I needed to connect, to laugh, to share my week, to hear about the weather, to avoid politics, and to be together. Normally I don’t talk to every family member on a weekly basis, but coming together with over 20 people each week (ranging in age from 5 months to 83 years old) has brought a sense of togetherness and peace in this turbulent time.
I began to think…if I can connect with family virtually, why can’t I go to an AA meeting, to church, to a scrapbook event, or even learn a new skill like flower arranging? Zoom and Facebook Live opened those doors. I reached out to the people in each of those circles and began to explore how I could start a meeting or join what was already happening. My Tuesday afternoon AA meeting started with 8 of us on Zoom, and now we are up to almost 30 women. I attend a Sunday meeting with over 100 people. Church services are online throughout the country, so I can attend service virtually with my home church a few miles away or my old church in New Jersey or even my sister’s church in Arizona. Recently, I attended my first Bible study over Zoom, and I spent an entire weekend attending National Scrapbook Day events on Facebook Live. Even my Memorial Day weekend Bible journaling retreat was changed to a virtual one!
Is this my new normal? I am not sure, but I do know that I have been able to stay connected to the things that mean the most to me—family, church, friends, work, and hobbies. Sometimes it is exhausting, but just knowing I am not socially isolated fills me with joy and gratitude. My next challenge is to figure out how to hug virtually!