The Upside of Social Isolation In a Lock Down World
We are social creatures, although our collective masks may be slipping slightly. We’re largely ignoring our warming world. Our social responsibility during the pandemic is hardly something to write home about. Yet, when our government tells us to shelter we feel deprived of human contact. There is an upside to social isolation I would like to share.
Finding a space to escape and dream
When I was a teen I could jump on my bicycle, and ride, ride, ride through the countryside the whole weekend. I’ll admit that was a while ago, but it was a great way to escape the limitation of home and parents. Then I was conscripted into the military which was ten times worse than boarding school. There was no such thing as social isolation in an army camp. I greedily stole the few moments when I could find a place to be alone. These were times to share my secret hopes, and dreams of a free future.
We had a narrower range of options during work time before the pandemic. The system dictated our working hours, and the people we collaborated with. We were caught up in our social networks, and the humdrum of life after hours. There was little space for our teenage hopes and dreams. The ‘I’ was being squeezed out,
And then came the first lockdown of the COVID-19 epidemic. Stay at home the boss said, and work on the web. Only shop for essential things, the government ordered. Living 24 / 7 with our families was not a walk in the park either.
Oh how we longed to be alone again, and free to do our own thing. It was wonderful when they allowed us to exercise outside. We could wander through the neighbourhood suitably masked and distanced. We could be alone with ourselves. Oh how we had missed that.
There is an Upside to Social Isolation
Successful artists, poets, composers, and mystics cultivate the habit of being on their own. They know they are at their most creative without other people drifting in an out of their thoughts. They retreat to mountain caves, retire to garden sheds, climb mountains, or explore forests.
The social order limits us, not liberates us. We may see this clearly in China if we disagree with their world view. Perhaps this is more subtle in western democracies but there are still bridges we may not cross. Most of us have to work for someone else, and their culture gradually envelopes us.
Our life partners and immediate families tie bonds of love around us from which we cannot escape. We are bound at the hip by generally accepted practices. What we eat, which television programs we watch, what time we go to bed are all givens. When we say we want to be alone we get strange looks. But there is an upside to social isolation when we look for it.
Being isolated in lock down allows us to review out situation through fresh eyes. Is it really necessary to go to work, when all we do is work on a computer? Do we really have to work for someone else when there are opportunities on the internet?
The world is changing around us while we chat together about our daily living. It seems likely our children will work on computers ordering the lives of machines. The only ‘jobs’ as we know them will involve people caring for other people. Should we fear this ‘brave new world’ or embrace it?
What we do know for sure is we will have more time for ourselves in the fifth industrial revolution. Will we party, party, party in our spare time, do you think. Or will we use the opportunity to finally, fully unleash our human creativity?
Social Isolation in Lockdown says “do it now”
We are not through this pandemic yet. It may continue until we agree how to stop infection spreading. By all accounts this is going to take a while longer, if at all. We could have social distancing and masking until the virus finally runs of steam.
It follows that surges and lock downs will continue to be with us. But those isolated moments are also an opportunity to unleash our creativity. There is a spark of genius in every one of us, and a special talent. Let harness the upside of social isolation to become more who we truly are. Let us become creative again.