Monday, 20 April 2020

Corona Virus Week Five: Isolation After Isolation

I missed posting this weekend. I was too busy painting my stairs and making use of some child-free time. Oh well. I'll keep it short. 

What I've been thinking about this week: for most people, this isolation is new and frustrating. For some of us, we've been isolated for longer, either geographically, physically because of illness or disability or because of mental health issues. We've missed out on chances to attend events, take up opportunities because we can't get to them due to work or child care commitments or lack of money or cannot cope with the large amounts of people and social pressures. Some have even been unable to work for whatever reasons.

Some of us have tried to reach out to organisers, employers, friends and family across the emptiness, tried to explain the issues we're facing and no one has answered back. We have tried to arrange activities, talk to more people online, request to work or study from home, but most people are busy and caught up in their own lives or unwilling to even consider changing the way things are done. 

Now that so many people are social distancing, dealing with the consequences of cancellation of events and activities, world suddenly hears and comes up with solutions. Various groups and organisations join together to find a way to include people who cannot be physically present. Online festivals, classes and get-togethers, the ability to work and study from home enhanced. People I've been sending messages suddenly are lonely and write back. No one heard us before because it didn't affect them and they couldn't comprehend the loneliness and frustrations. 

The world is changing, reaching out, but when the entertainment venues are open, the ability to meet up returns, will anyone remember that there are still those of us who can't take a weekend off to go to a conference or have the money to get public transport into a bigger city for an event, who physically can't travel to do a 9-5 job?

I hope this new online, distance-friendly, open culture will continues after the dust from the Corona Virus settles. That my kids can still pop into a friend's birthday in Australia, even if it's only to watch him blow out the candles. That I will be able to 'attend' an AGM or conference via Zoom. That I will be able to read my work at a magazine launch, even if it's only on their website afterwards. 

I hope that we remember that ways exist to include those isolated in our worlds and that we are allowed to continue to use technology to build an even wider community, as inclusive as possible. 

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