Fear of Human Interaction

The changes the pandemic forced on our lifestyles continue to make inroads into our lives well after the first lockdown. The last 18 months or so has seen unprecedented changes to the way work, interact with others, shop and therefore engage with others. 

I am very comfortable and happy with my own company and have not found the isolation away from others too difficult to adapt to. I have an endless list of activities, both work and hobbies, in which to immerse myself. I am also privileged to have wide spans of greenery and beaches that afford me the opportunity of long walks.

I totally understand if you have children and grandchildren, it would have been that much more difficult being cut off from your family indefinitely and only connect with them through zoom. You can’t hug a computer screen!

However, now that we are slowly emerging from our cocoons and once again engaging with the world, it feels strange and scary at times. After the 19th of July, many in the UK have thrown caution to the wind and have returned to a lifestyle prior to the pandemic.

Others, like myself, are treading more carefully and continue to wear a facemask when within confined spaces with others, such as supermarkets, etc. I would not have the courage to venture into a restaurant without one and have preferred sitting outside on the couple of times I have had lunch with friends.

Am I too cautious and as we have been double vaccinated, should that not protect us from the virus? Alas, it doesn’t totally, and the statistics suggest that 40% of people admitted to hospital with Covid have been double vaccinated. They may not be as ill as they would have been without the vaccination, but it does not provide an invisible barrier to the virus. I have first-hand experience of exactly this scenario. 

I have decided to travel to my house in France after an absence of a year. The son of a friend, having been vaccinated, contracted the virus and then passed it on to my friend. She also has been double vaccinated and thankfully didn’t need hospitalisation, but she was rather poorly. This, even though France is a lot stricter with the wearing of facemasks and, given the weather, most interaction with others take place outside. 

I believe for the benefit of the economy worldwide and the wellbeing of all, we need to find ways of living with the virus. This, however, does not mean throwing caution to the wind and behave as if life is ‘back to normal’. I doubt if the pre-pandemic ‘normal’ will ever return. 

I mention above the changes brought about in the way we react to others. We have developed a suspicion of spontaneous close contact with others. We don’t shake hands, hug and in France where the traditional greeting is a couple (or three where I am) of kisses on the cheeks, we keep our distance. 

The impact on the granddaughter of a friend brought home to me how it has affected everyone at all ages. The little girl is not yet two years old and spent most of her short life isolating at home with no physical interaction with others with the exception of members of her household. When she was first introduced to a large gathering of family members she went into shutdown, refusing to interact with anyone and just kept repeating ‘no’ over and over and refused to eat for three days. Being young and therefore more adaptable, she is now happily engaging with others. I do wonder about the psychological and emotional impact the pandemic has had on people of all ages, and we will probably only find out in time to come. 

The doom and gloom tone of my post this month is at odds with my optimistic default position. Despite my concerns, I am slowly engaging with the world and, as I mentioned, taken my first trip to my house in France. It was a big step, made exponentially more complicated by the UK Government’s inability to set clear guidelines and then not change the rules at a moment’s notice, based on dubious and spurious information.

Despite my optimistic nature, I for one will re-engage with the world cautiously, wear my mask and continue to observe sanitation guidelines indefinitely. 

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