It’s ironic to admit that during this time of social isolation, I’ve been more social than ever.
I now have time more on my hands, and I’ve leveraged it to deepen relationships. I’ve been able to reach out to old friends I haven’t spoken to in years through phone calls, FaceTime, and Zoom. Every time I have a new conversation with a friend, the answer to what they miss the most is always the same: human connection.
During this time, we’ve formed a community, a new society of sorts. Over these past few weeks, FOMO has been canceled. In fact, the opposite is true—we are having JOMO from not having to commute to our jobs, sitting at our desks all day, and overwhelming ourselves with the 10,000 things on our to-do list in the span of a single afternoon. We are embracing spending time with our own company while also craving the company of others. Many of us are in the same boat, and because of that, we are all navigating a new normal at the same time.
There is a considerable need for human connection across the board.
And even though digital tools are helping keep us connected and even Instagram is being filled with inspiration vs. avocado toasts, I’ve also noticed that people are starting to feel overwhelmed by technology.
When we run around all day, we don’t give our brains the time to evaluate and process our daily habits. Now that we have more time, we are coming to realize what we like about our routines and what isn’t serving us. We are face to face with our daily habits with, literally, nowhere to go.
While technology isn’t going away, I believe that this pandemic is teaching us how to use it mindfully. As we collectively begin to experience tech exhaustion, we are forced to observe our habits with our devices in a way we never have before. The reality of staring at a computer screen for at least eight hours a day seems almost impossible in the comfort of our homes. So why are we forcing ourselves to do so daily?
When we all come out of this, I hope we implement new, better habits—not just in our homes, but in our lives.
I hope that businesses will truly begin to alter the way their employees are valued, that boundaries will be implemented, and individuals will be able to work from home if needed. It’s now obvious that many jobs can be done remotely (and will be even easier when we can go to our local coffee shop). I hope that companies will add more vacation days because we collectively see how we can no longer take life for granted. But my number one hope for businesses is that rules will be put in place (like in other countries) that no one is to answer emails after the workday.
My hope for society is that our appreciation for human connection will be so profound that it will wake people up so much that we won’t hide our faces in our tiny screens on the subway anymore.
We will fill our leisure time with events or going to friends’ houses to play games (while our phones are on airplane mode). We will always give our friends hugs and stay awake until the early mornings having meaningful conversations over pizza because we can.
I hope that spaces such as concert halls and event venues will wake up to this realization as well. I hope that they incorporate mindful practices and prioritize the people inside rather than sharing on their devices. I hope that a mandatory phone check will become the new normal at these locations to promote the connection we’d been missing for far longer than the pandemic. Community spaces will exist not to be documented, but to experience real connections with each other.
I hope that all younger generations will learn how to look everyone in the eye and maybe even smile at strangers.
And that instead of reverting to their old ways of TikTok and Twitter, they will be at the forefront of creating a generation that is more interconnected than ever before.
I hope that the habits we have instilled in our bodies during this time will not go to waste. I hope that self-care will become a priority, and burnout will not be an option. I hope that we will not only turn away from our screens when we are overwhelmed, but that we will also look inside to ask ourselves what we need at that moment.
The after-effects of this pandemic are going to be profound. But as someone who firmly believes in the power of human connection, I know that our new normal can be better than our old normal. Because I hope that, in our new normal, we bring values back to our culture, and we come together as a community like we have been doing. I hope that we take more moments to look up at the sky and look up at our possibilities. Most importantly, I hope we look up at each other and embrace one another. Until then, consider this a big digital hug for our society.
Content courtesy of Liana Pavane, digital wellness expert and founder of TTYL—a tech-free community dedicated to human connection.
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR, LIANA PAVANE
Liana founded TTYL in 2018 to help people have a healthier relationship with technology and social media. Since launching, she has been featured on NY1, Bedford + Bowery, The Joy List, the SHIPS podcast, and more for her work in digital wellness.
As a professional community builder, Liana believes in the power of unplugging and living in the present moment. Her tech-free events have been hosted at prominent spaces such as Athleta, Showfields, The Assemblage, The Phluid Project, and Tijuana Picnic.
Liana is also a born and raised New Yorker who studied theatre at Ithaca College. When she’s not growing her business or hosting an event, you can find Liana networking with like-minded people or finding joy away from her phone.