While adding a slew of new things to worry about, this long lockdown also removes some normal kinds of pressure. There are things I don’t have to worry about right now, like how I’m coming across in a social setting, or if I’m being too loud or too direct or too effusive or too whatever with people around me. They aren’t around, so it’s not an issue. I don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules of social engagement and politeness. I don’t have to check the temperature of the mood in the room and adjust my body and language accordingly. These days, I can slip comfortably into whatever unusual habits I prefer, and no one will give me a funny look to let me know I’ve missed a standard social cue. I can do things my way, and no one will see if my way is weird. I’m living in safety, inside the walls of my own comfort zone.
Yes, I have a smartphone. But I have a lot of control over who I talk to on it, and over what kind of interaction I get online: I can curate and block and shape my newsfeeds into a reflection of my own thoughts. I can avoid the discomfort of disagreement, if I want to. I can find great articles supporting my every preference and opinion and ignore all the rest. I don’t really mean to, but it’s not always easy to catch. The internet is not at all like sitting across the table from someone who sees things very differently, yet stubbornly continues to be a likeable human.
Someday I’ll sit at tables again, with other humans besides the ones who live in my house. Humans who have spent the same time locked away in their own comfort zones, who have gotten used to doing and thinking things their own ways, like I have. Someday we’ll all be thrown back together, a big heap of ideas and preferences and one difference might be that we’re all a little more entrenched and forgetful about how to disagree with each other without using a keyboard.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we’ll all appreciate personal interaction more, and try harder after this. That would be great.
I just wonder how weird I’m going to be by then.