This past 12 months I took a chance, I opened up a face to face clinic in the town I had moved to 6 years previously. After travelling to use other people’s clinics across the EU and then moving the majority of my business online or the phone I came to a realisation that I needed to interact with people far more. Not just over the internet, but face to face in my day to day life. These things that seem so simple had stopped, I walked my dog at lunchtime with my friend a few times a week when I wasn’t working away, but if she was busy, I saw no one but my other half for days on end and my clients. I’m pretty self-sufficient as an individual, but even I realised that this was no longer healthy for me, so I opened a new clinic to help me interact with my clients on a more regular basis.
It was a success, until COVID19, who would have thought too much illness would close it down rather than not enough! My office brought me a chance to talk to interact with others, such as the ladies in reception not about health, but my post, what their weekends had been like, and laughter over the mundane that makes up the majority of our lives. Then slowly other friendships built, I have a cracking laugh with the lady who cleans, and I put the world to rights as we all are known to do with the lady who makes soft furnishings in the office on the same corridor. Social interaction became an important part of my day, often for very short amounts of time, but my health and well being benefited from this happening. The stretch of the legs and the hello how are you doing was better for me than any supplement could have been.
But I’m not the only one who’s life had become more insular and dependant on two dimensional communication with others. Our lives from my conversations with clients have become more insular over the past few years, time scrolling on phones takes precedence over sleep, comparisons with people we not only don’t know but will never know drive decisions on how we look, all discovered on a social media platform. The large supermarkets decimated high street small vendors who we previously visited regularly, those butchers, greengrocers, and bakers who knew what we liked, they lived in our community and interacted not only with us but about our family. That gave way to big shopping, where we just buy our stuff and go, then online shopping, each move towards this left us a little bit more isolated, a little bit more alone, although what great choice we all have shopping online on our own.
Our online ‘friends’ we value the ‘likes’ and validation from so much, say and act in ways that our neighbours and real life friends built up over years would never do, trolling, criticism, degradation, sniping, anger, arguments are what many of us have come to expect online. People living their lives out in public theatre, distanced, unconnected yet connected to millions, and those connections remembering for years, allowing you to never grow, develop or change, forever stuck with an opinion created from your experiences up to that point. Our communities help shape our thinking, our behaviour, our life, we all change, evolve, but we are held to beliefs and standards that we could have held years previously, forever a public record that our friends and family would have forgiven you for long ago if not forgotten.
We all value isolation, it brings us clarity, strength, helps us to reconsider, rethink, rebirth even, an invaluable part of our lives at times. Touch, connection, emotions shared, lives interacted with are an important part of our health and well being, jumping up and down in the living room to a computer game is no replacement for getting out and playing with your friends on a trampoline, and neither is interaction over a screen a replacement for the energy you feel off another person. The physicality of our lives has over the past few years been eroded away with our agreement because it’s easier in a busy overburdened lifestyle to just interact on a screen on the sofa than actually take the time to meet up with someone.
When I was a child I just went out to play, we played all over the neighbourhood, the neighbours watching collectively over us. I can’t imagine that anymore in our society which has become in so many ways two dimensional. The safety of our children overriding the need for them to interact with the outdoors and have a kinaesthetic experience, instead they feel worldly-wise thanks to the two-dimensional experience they are able to get from the screen in their bedroom where they just feel they’ve lived and learned. In reality, done in isolation.
Social interaction is a key part of our health and well being, and I for one hope it’s restored quickly I don’t feel that we collectively will thrive in isolation, we may live out our lives, but we won’t truly live or be alive.