• Carolyn M Holmes

Transmission in the Time of Covid, musings on the UK 'Freedom Day'

Would we have predicted the muted, snuffled response to Monday 19th July 2021 ‘Freedom day’ this week in the UK, when we started our months of limited contact and isolation from each other last year? Meeting up with work colleagues, family and friends made before and during Covid (it’s too early for after isn’t it…) has felt like a luxury made easier by the good weather, and now we’ll all be having parties, right?

Did you ditch your latex gloves, burn your least favourite masks, and wave your hand sanitiser goodbye? How many of us were jumping for joy at the prospect of being released from captivity and pressing the delete button for ‘Teams’ and ‘Zoom’ online video conferencing?

Some, however, have welcomed the change in human behaviour during Covid to one which suits their quieter, maybe reclusive lifestyle and do not necessarily welcome the opening up of society. For others, who are clinically extremely vulnerable, their families, carers and friends ‘lockdown’ still exists. How long will we live in a stratified society of those who feel safe to go out and socialise and those who don’t? Who cares about this? Is it just those whose life is being curtailed, conveniently forgotten behind the four walls of their homes?

The human costs of loneliness are difficult to quantify, and mythologised as dangerous to our health as smoking. It is as if we have not only suffered with the deaths of loved ones, but also the loss of real life human contact, hugs, speech, laughter and gossip. But within this ‘Freedom week’ do we heartily greet our friends, neighbours, family, hairdresser, our GP, our Postman/woman or are we back to wishing we had limited contact again? Maybe we were relieved that we didn’t have to bump into certain people at work, and are now quite happy working from home 'for the foreseeable'. ' Don't expect me back in the office' is our rallying cry.

So now, I suggest, it’s time for us all to undertake a (social) media detox (for some maybe more than others, I know I will be identified as a culprit by my husband) i.e. a withdrawal from the transmission of communication that has enabled us to keep in touch during these difficult times, through the spreading of messages, videos, photographs, likes, and comments.

Only joking! I suspect we will continue with the exponentially increased time looking at our phones and laptops, rather than each other? Have our lives changed for ever? Discuss…

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