I’ve been trying for some time to put my finger on how to describe the feelings that I have about the current state of things in the world and in my life. The word “disconnected” keeps popping up and I think it is perfect to describe that feeling. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everyone’s world upside down and for all of us it has led to disconnects. Disconnects from our normal work world. Disconnects from our normal social world. In addition, disconnects from our normal religious world.
Many have been sent home to work, cutting us off from the normal interactions that we have at work and from the sense if identity that comes from those interactions. The normal conference room meetings, hallway conversations and day-to-day job activities in the workplace provide a big part of the framework that we see as our identity. We may still perform most of the same job activities, but doing so over a Zoom link does not bring with it the same since of identity. The fact that we don’t even have to get up and get ready to go to work adds to the loss of identity. Where is that person in the nice suit or business casual outfit and who is this slob still in pajamas at 10 AM in the morning?
As a Realtor and an outside sales person, I have noticed how disconnected I have felt, while I was unable to call on clients in person. Sure, I could still send emails and text messages and make phone calls, but there has been very few face-to-face sales calls. It has become much too easy for regular clients to just back off making their normal buys, when we were not meeting in person. How disconnected have you become from your “normal” work environment?
Socially, not being able to get together or even to go out to eat in a restaurant was certainly disconnecting during the time we were all in the lock-down by State mandates. Even now, eating in a restaurant is not anywhere near the social event that it used to be; plus, we are now advised to not even gather in groups around the Holiday table. The social fabric of our lives has been rendered and we have withdrawn into our nuclear family groups. How disconnected socially has your life become?
On the religious front, my church, like many others, has not met regularly in person since March. My church had one social event this summer (an ice cream social) and has held two drive-in church services, with mixed results, in terms of attendance. The age of our congregation (probably averages 70+) and the guidance of our Synod Bishop continue to dictate caution and not holding in-person services. I produce and post videos of our church services each week and we have been fortunate to have the continued support of our musical staff to provide music for those services, yet it is not the same. Most of the church related groups – the book club, the knitting club and the women’s group have continue to meet and that helps keep those bonds intact. The Pastor holds a “coffee hour” via Zoom each Sunday at about the time that services would normally be over and that helps some; but, for many there is a growing sense of disconnect. How has your religious life been impacted by the pandemic?
I think the important thing is to acknowledge these disconnects and to take positive action to overcome them, rather than letting them drag you down into depression. Things are not going to be the same for quite a while, if ever; so we need to adjust to the “new normal” and find ways to reconnect at work, socially and in our religious lives.
Our work life identity may have switched from our office or cubicle to the little box down and to the left on the Zoom screen, but we are still responsible for the important aspect of the business that we were hired for and we need to feel good about dong that job. Maybe it’s time to force ourselves to get up, get showered and put on all of our “work” clothes; even if it is just for a Zoom meeting – no more “waist-up” dressing.
Maybe it’s time to venture out to a restaurant or to go shopping at the mall (just remember your mask). Maybe you can sit down and call those people that you’ve been missing and have a nice, long conversation with them. I’m sure that they have been feeling lonely, too.
Or, maybe it’s time to watch a church service video and sing along with the music. The video’s that I post on our YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSTzf6Jn_j2iepSePY4yiyw?view_as=subscriber – have the words posted for each song, so that the viewer can sing along. I invite you to try this week’s service at – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f4_YVyPz6o&feature=youtu.be
I won’t tell you that you shouldn’t feel somewhat disconnected, that’s just how things are for a while; however, you can take positive steps to reconnect and to feel more like a part of the new normal. I’d even suggest that you buy a mask with a smiley face on it, just to start some conversations and to give yourself a smile when you look in the mirror or see yourself in your little Zoom box. When someone on the Zoom call asks you, why you are wearing a mask on the Zoom call, tell them that you heard about computer viruses and didn’t want to catch one. That may get a laugh and a conversation started. In fact, this picture from the internet is the perfect virus mask for that.
The key is that you do something about feeling disconnected. Reconnections won’t just happen, you have to make them happen. Get up. Get showered. Get dressed and get reconnected!