Sunday, March 29, 2020

Social distancing virtually and IRL

The last time I blogged was in 2017. Since then, I'd always meant to write again, but life kept happening and so did carpal tunnel syndrome. It made it that much harder to get back to writing after an already long day at work, on my computer. Instagram and Facebook became convenient substitutes for memory keeping. Share pictures, write a quick caption, done.

And then coronavirus happened. So I guess it took a global pandemic for me to finally blog again. I decided to dust off these virtual blank pages to put some thoughts on them because I didn't trust that I would remember the minutia of our days 20, 30, 40 years down the road. Because right now, when we're forced into a togetherness like never before, it's the minutia that matters the most. When we're counting every hour, every minute until all this craziness passes. When we're forced to figure out how to pass this time of social distancing effectively, and--when I'm ambitious--even meaningfully. Or during those tough moments--and let's face it, there's going to many--how do we do it without killing each other?

What makes this more interesting for me is, at a time when everyone around me is practicing social distancing, I had chosen, two months prior to the COVID-19 restrictions, to avoid social media altogether. I deleted Facebook and Instagram from my phone and opted not to log in from my desktop as well.

It was part of my Self Care 2020 resolution. I decided that, after years of putting my family before me, focusing on raising my girls, it was the year that I would turn that focus on my own needs. I was certain I couldn't do that through the lens of social media, not when I couldn't scroll through my feed without a certain level of "I wish I could..." or "I should've..." or "If only..." or "It must be nice...". Turns out, I'm not immune to the ills of social media that psychologists warn us about, so I opted out altogether for self-preservation.

And you know what? It's been three months and counting, and I have to say, it was one of the best decisions I've made in a long time. Not to sound dramatic, but it felt like a spring cleaning of my soul. Don't get me wrong. I miss seeing my family and friends on my feed. I miss the convenience of being in touch virtually with people I care about. But I don't miss the clutter in my head and the self-doubt that had cast a weighted shadow on my life.

For those who had reached out, wondering about my quiet social media feed, thank you, and I'm happy to report that we're all healthy and safe. All things considered, we're all in a pretty good place, but I'll write more on my family later. For now, I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate this temporary normal. To Instagram or not to Instagram, at at time when our need for social connection is magnified by the mandate against it?

It's becoming exceedingly difficult to distance myself virtually when I also have to do it in real life. Even for an introvert like me, it's getting harder to not have regular contact with people outside my family. Not that I'm miserable, but misery loves company, as they say, so when we're going through the COVID crisis together, it seems only natural to crave a support network, even when they only appear on our phones.

Perhaps blogging is my compromise. Rather than scrolling through my feed looking for company every day, I can collect my thoughts and put them out into the world, hoping that some of these words may find its way to those who need it.

But I suspect that the one who needs these words the most is me. And maybe that's a good enough to start writing again.

We all need to find a way to cope. One way or another.

My posse on our daily walks together. Yes, Little Miss is no longer little.

See how our family is coping during the pandemic.