World of One
The COVID pandemic has changed life for all of us, but considerably more so for solo individuals.
I suspect for some people, daily life has not changed a whole lot. I mean the people that have family, partners, spouses, kids, and pets etc. all living under the same roof, or close to each other. They have their ‘safe unit of people’, or ‘bubble’ so to speak, in this pandemic era.
People that share their lives and their day to day myriad of intimate details only shared in person, by people close to each other.
Sure there are the tell-all diaries of day to day lives on Facebook some like to post, and the lengthy texts friends share with one another on digital platforms. But social media doesn’t hold a candle to face-to-face connection.
(I’m also well aware there are many people suffering in household relationships they desperately want out of, who are desiring solitude, but that is a different story for another writer).
We human beings crave connection and understanding, especially from the people who matter to us most. To look into the eyes of each other, hear the tone of voice, a familiar laugh and see subtle facial movements reflected back to us as we speak and listen to those we care about or want to know better.
Despite our connected online virtual world we live in, there is an epidemic of loneliness.
Fully six-in-ten Canadians (62%) say they would like their friends and family to spend more time with them, while only 14 per cent of Canadians would describe the current state of their social lives as “very good.” — Angus Read Institute; A Portrait of social isolation and loneliness in Canada today published June 17, 2019 by Dave Korzinski, Research Associate http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019.06.14_Loneliness-and-Social-Isolation-Index.pdf
People connected online but disconnected in person. The loneliness was there before, but the pandemic magnified it.
For solo individuals living alone, the pandemic has thrown a wrench into a life that we couldn’t previously have imagined. The people we spent time with and the places we went to network and socialize when we felt like it, and the travelling we did to refresh our spirits, became off-limits.
It made life lonelier and harsher for solo people, as chosen, or unchosen solitude and isolation deepened and extended.
It became a different world. Not just a household of one, a World of One.
With nowhere to go and no one to get together with sharing a meal, a drink or a chat.
While long-term solo people are likely much better adapted to being alone and even cherish a certain amount of solitude, being forced into extended periods of solitude with unknown duration, can become wearing on one’s good nature and independent spirit.
I hear the pandemic weary frustration of friends spending too much time inside their own family circles who want to stretch their wings once again with an active social life outside of their household like they used to have. These same well-meaning friends give the perfunctory “I understand” responses to your spoken loneliness over the phone or via text.
But how can one really understand this crushing loneliness if they are not, or have not experienced it for themselves? They’re still sharing their family meals, watching their favourite shows, walking the dog, discussing the day’s events, family topics and the daily news, together, in person.
Now more than ever, people have been holing up with their families, partners and/or housemates and not venturing far from home these days, and I understand that. The following quote was pre-pandemic:
On the surface, it appears that Canadians do not spend a significant portion of their time interacting with people outside of their own household. When asked how often in the past month they had seen various groups, from family members outside of their home, to friends, to neighbours, at least half in each instance say that none of these are a weekly occurrence for them — Angus Read Institute; A Portrait of social isolation and loneliness in Canada today published June 17, 2019 by Dave Korzinski, Research Associate http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019.06.14_Loneliness-and-Social-Isolation-Index.pdf -
Let's not forget your solo friends and the people you know who are living alone, whether by choice or circumstance, just because of isolation, social distancing, and public places being closed or requiring masks.
Reach out and make time to connect with solo people who are now living in a lonely World of One.
You may be a lifeline that means the world to One of them.