In difficult times we see the resilience and creativity of the human spirit in action. In the face of COVID-19, much of the world has been pushed into the confines of homes and shelters to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. The sudden change in routine due to social isolation has been jarring. Distance from others can cause a great deal of loneliness and despair. Fortunately, people are natural problem solvers. It has been heartening to see over the past couple of weeks a whole new world of connection. It’s unlike what existed before this global pandemic. People are taking to the internet to fulfill their social needs.
Entertainers, promoters, content creators, and community members have stepped up to fill the gap that mass social distancing has created. There have been so many options for connecting with friends and strangers alike in virtual communities. Informal coffee dates, 15-minute dance breaks for people working from home, exercise classes, costume parties, book clubs, movie and television viewing socials, group meditations, online courses, cyber game nights — these are just some of the gatherings and events that have popped up. And as the call for social distancing persists, people are only coming up with more interesting ways to connect.
Clients in the Building Economic Self-Sufficiency Program (BESS) are also getting into the spirit of creating the virtual reality they want to see in the world. With in-person workshops suspended for the time being, the BESS Program has gone online. While program staff have been sure to keep the online group for BESS active and engaging, clients themselves have been adding their own value, looking out for their friends in the program. Program staff are thrilled to see clients coming together in this way.
“They’ve been connecting around ways to stay healthy and sane while indoors, they’ve been sharing Zumba and Yoga workouts that they can do at home, tips and resources for those who have mental health and isolation challenges, articles on different topics related to social distancing and social isolation,” Says Chantel Nelson, Housing Partnership Coordinator at Interval House. Clients have also been sharing podcast recommendations and arranging their own cyber-hangouts to keep themselves entertained. What’s happening really highlights the deeper power BESS has to facilitate community and friendship.
With no clear picture of how long the pandemic will last, social distancing is difficult. But the good news is that with today’s technology, it’s possible to get together with others. Whether you’re a host at heart or a party person with no place to go, there’s something out there for you. Just a quick scroll through your emails or social media feeds will yield options for entertaining or educational virtual events. Even NOW Magazine’s events listing page is featuring online events these days!
Humans are wired for connection — our survival depends on it. During these strange times, finding ways to stay in touch with others is more important than ever. Call your friends to check-in. Email a daily update to your family. Invite your friends to that cool virtual dance you heard about. Send reading recommendations to your neighbours. There are countless ways to stay close to those you care about. Get creative! Hard times sometimes present the best opportunities. And we now all have an opportunity to pull through and support each other in meaningful ways. Take this time to cultivate love, friendship, and caring relationships, and remember to take that spirit with you when the world returns to normal.