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  • Writer's pictureLalita Dileep

World without Hugs

Social Niceties in the New Normal

Embracing Change

We cannot hug each other. No handshakes either. Social distancing is physically isolating. We are a generation that expresses itself in touchy-feely ways: a kiss, a bear hug, a shoulder clasp, holding hands, high fives and so much more. We cannot even see the smiles behind the face masks. Spontaneous human contact has vanished. Because as a global community we have pledged to care for one another and therefore we have undertaken to step back, distance ourselves to keep each other safe.

Understanding this reality and dealing with it are two different things entirely. As the #Corona crisis drags on with no clear end in sight we are realizing that we need to fashion a new set of social etiquettes. It is our collective "burden" to re-frame our common conversations and adapt.

Connecting through Distance

There is no neutral position in the fact that the world needs to heal - wholly, completely, and intrinsically. For the first time in recent decades, all nations have an equal stake in being restored and mended. While scientific communities are stewarding to find a cure - we have a responsibility to do our part in containment and prevention.

When we greet one another, our social hemispheres co-mingle, even if for the briefest instance. These perfunctory asking after each other's welfare was always a means of connecting with one another - alas these too have been restricted, whittled and plain broken down. The face to face smiles, nodding and hugging each other replaced with virtual and checkered squares of Zoom, Skype and Google Meet feel alien and distant. Even as we console ourselves that this is better than nothing, we still crave free and unfettered human contact.

Being robbed of these simple social niceties has created a prolonged stressful environment.

As many of us prepare to work remotely for the long haul, we have to create some form of communication etiquette reminders to make the transition as smooth and productive as possible.

Communication and Etiquette

This calls for a cliff note version for one to navigate the new world we live in. Interacting with one another requires more empathy, kindness and consideration as each one of us faces different challenges. We all have to learn to be sensitive, open and aware in manners to be able to pick up the nonverbal signals that come our way. And at the end of each day, if we’re productive, we deserve to give ourselves a pat on the back.

How have you navigated the communication loop? Do you make a concerted effort for casual conversation to do away with the anxiety or do you pick up the phone and talk to your friend or co-worker? Have you found ways to overcome Zoom fatigue? Is there a secret hybrid formula that is a mix of face to face meetings outdoors and Facetime calls that keep you and your loved ones safe and sane?

Let's create a present-day Fellowship to support each other which can be our endowment to the #NewSocialGrace.

We are stronger together


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