Self-isolation social norms and how to navigate them

Monday, 13 April 2020

Self-Isolation Social Norms and How to Navigate Them

Before life as we knew it ground to a halt a few weeks ago, thanks to the you-know-what C word, it was near-on impossible to make plans with friends, putting dates in the diary to speak to friends in the early evening, leaving me to get a few things done in the day such as exercise, relax and read or watch TV or unwind after a day of work. 

Looking at social media feeds we're all clearly trying hard to maintain the remnants of a social life through Houseparty calls, group pub quizzes and cocktail-fuelled catch-ups to help us feel connected to those most important around us. We haven't seen much comment on etiquette emerge yet beyond memes and tweets but there are plenty of questions in my mind about the do's and don'ts of video calls such as how late is too late when joining a call past an agreed time and is it rude if it needs to be cancelled last-minute? 

And what about out of the blue calls? I should probably do this more often and call people to chat when I want to remind them that I'm still here but it's hard to know what's acceptable etiquette for others - with long days and not too many plans, people at home are more flexible with those they live with and you don't want to interrupt their evening if it's not the right time for them. 

It'll be interesting to observe how our conversations with friends and family evolve the longer we're in isolation too; when, if ever, has everyone we know been stuck in the same situation, sat at home with limited options of things to do when we do go outside, following similar routines in our everyday lives? Pretty much never, and it's only natural that after a while conversation will feel a bit dry. 

That said, the fact that the difficulties we're experiencing are shared amongst so many of us is comforting. This is an opportunity to open up to people and be honest about our worries, emotions and frustrations and offload some of that stress with the people who care about us most. Some days I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall when the cabin fever gets a bit much, but others I feel completely at home and in my element so it's important that we take how we feel one day at a time.

I don't believe we've reached the point yet where isolation feels like everyday life, and I doubt it will for a while. It means that where possible we need to speak openly and honestly with those we interact with, whether that's a friend, relative, loved one or a colleague and work out how best to communicate with them. Certain patterns and behaviours will become clearer with time, but for now it's important to be mindful that we're all going through our own problems at an incredibly difficult time - a bit of patience and understanding is key!

Hope you enjoyed reading!

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Self-Isolation Social Norms and How to Navigate Them

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