The Crisis that Created an Isolated Populace
It is the connection that binds us together.
It is what people all around the world use to connect to other human beings, to feel love, and to feel a part of. It is the tie that binds us together as one and unites us in this thing that we call life, and most of all it is what alleviates the painful and raw emotions that we experience in this life.
During the current pandemic that we all are going through, this part of the human connection that is needed most, yet this is the part of the human experience that we are not able to participate in because of the nature of the illness and how contagious this virus is. This is the cruel part of COVID-19.
I have learned over the years from my work in customer service and in the rooms of recovery programs that human touch and closeness with other humans is vital to connecting with others and that when we connect in a close way that we are able to relay our emotions in ways that other ways simply cannot do.
For example, touching others allows us to send messages of love, affection, and compassion that other ways of communicating simply cannot accomplish. It is similar with relating to a pet in some ways. I work as a dog walker and these precious creatures feel love by the ways that we touch them, they understand how we feel about them simply by our physical interactions with them and the same is true with our fellow human beings.
I believe that we must all get in touch with the human side of the world and reach out to others who struggle with being isolated during this entire lockdown and pandemic situation, more than ever in fact. I also believe that isolation is a killer and can be detrimental to people’s state of mental health as well as their spiritual well-being and when we are forced into isolation like we have been of late, it can be even more difficult to accept.
The essence of human touch is to relate to others and to feel connected to people in ways that the social distancing that we now must abide by cannot do. Humans crave affection and to be close to one another. That is the very nature of our human existence and it always has been who we are and what we are about. It is important to connect to other humans in a variety of ways and touch is a vital part of that process.
What do we do when we cannot touch others in situations like the one, we find ourselves in now?
That is a good question and to answer, I would like to tell of one of my experiences that took place early on in this COVID-19 crisis that could perhaps show how we can feel less isolated and connect with others more despite the social distance guidelines that we now have as our new reality.
Back in early to mid-March, I was feeling quite isolated and to be honest, very depressed as well as we started getting into the reality of the virus and seeing just where we are in terms of the virus and the havoc it is creating in our country and in ourselves. I decided to take matters into my own hands and get creative. So, I started an online community for those in recovery on one of the social media platforms in order to help people feel less isolated and more connected to one another.
Now, this helped a lot, but it did not fix the lack of human touch dilemma we all find ourselves in during these strange times. It did however give people a sense of belonging and help them to feel less alone and more a part of. We still struggle emotionally with this entire situation and see no way that we can deal with the loneliness that engulfs us on a daily basis, even with the outlets that we create like online communities and ways to communicate with people in the middle of this chaos.
Humans crave affection. Even before all of this virus and lockdown stuff happened, I talked about how humans crave physical interaction. It is often referred to as “skin hunger”, the psychological need for physical touch and the emotional problems that arise when such touch is not achieved. This is at the very core of the human experience and something that we must acknowledge as real and a human need that is important and even vital to survival and to our emotional well-being.
The virus has made the emotional stresses and feeling of not being connected to other human beings more real than it has ever been. The lockdowns and forced quarantines are absolutely needed during this time, but at the same time they can contribute to our feelings of being isolated and feeling all alone in this world and this is because we are so used to being able to touch others, to hug, to be intimate, and to have that closeness that we all long for and need as part of our humanity.
The best way that we can begin to re-establish our connection to other people (short of the end of the lockdowns) is to get in touch with our inner selves and find ways to learn about who we are and what we want from ourselves and in this process we will not only learn who we are as creatures, but we will learn who we are as a nation and we will be more able to deal with this crisis that isolates us so much.
In the past when we would have a national crisis, there were ways that we could support each other and thus, connect to each other and have that human connection, but in this crisis, we cannot do that. We were together at benefit concerts after mass shootings, giving blood after 9/11, building homes after Katrina, handing out food after earthquakes and tornados and so on, but things are very different here.
We cannot be with our loved ones and touch them when they are dying from this virus, we cannot date in the traditional way and have that intimate connection with our fellow human beings, or even be with each other at sporting events, movies, and the many other places that we as Americans meet to spend time together and share our lives with.
We cannot even go play at the park or go to school together. Even working side by side remains a challenge as we must maintain social distance and stay six feet apart in order to stay safe. It is something that I never thought I would see in my lifetime and something that has a profound negative effect on the human psyche in more ways than one. It is a situation that truly makes us feel imprisoned and isolated beyond anything that we ever thought we would see, let alone a reality that we would have to endure day by day.
Things are not normal and how we connect with each other is also different and will be for quite some time. We must learn to adapt to our “new normal” and find ways to connect once again, if not physically, then at least emotionally and mentally. I feel that if we don’t, then the loneliness and isolation that we are currently experiencing will only get worse and we will be much worse off as we go forward in this strange new world.