I think it’s safe to say that people are making much more use of the internet to stay in touch in these Days of Coronavirus. Aside from the usual written platforms like email, whatsapp and messenger, the video options (which I never do) such as facetime, skype and zoom are also extra popular now. And of course there are all the social media platforms. I’ve never tweeted so much since, well, ever. Honestly, if my internet connection down I don’t know what I’d do. And neither would you because I wouldn’t be able to tell you about it.
One thing I’ve been wondering about these past three weeks (okay 24 days, but who’s counting) is how netiquette has changed with this new situation. I mean other than the usual “be polite”, “never tweet drunk” and “you don’t have to post every single thought in your head”, there are probably some new unspoken guidelines that we may not know about yet because, well, nobody talks about them.
For example. My favourite quick stay in touch platform is Whatsapp, because you can have as long or short a chat as you feel like, or you can just send some info or a photo, and there is usually the (again unspoken) understanding that you don’t HAVE to reply right away, or you can stop the “convo” without having to announce the fact. I think it’s the casualness that makes it feel so easy to pop in and out, unlike emails which seem a bit daunting these days.
Anyhow, up until February BC (before coronavirus), I would send my whatsapps and if I didn’t hear from someone for awhile, no pasa nada. I could either give them a shout later on, or even see them in person, and everyone would know that everything was fine. But now it’s a bit different. If I send a message now and there is no reply, what do I do? How long do I wait until I send another message? Is the person okay? Are they sick? Or are they just sick of me? (too much time alone tends to bring up ALL the self doubt).
Because the other thing I know from my Cancer Training is that when people are in need they will almost never tell you so. And maybe they are doing the same “well, I haven’t heard from Shawn in a week so maybe she doesn’t want to hear from me either” mind fuck. I tend to give people about a week and then maybe send them a quick hello, a silly meme, whatever. If all I get back is an emoji and it’s apparent after awhile that they’ve made no effort to initiate a chat… then what? Is it because they don’t want to hear from me? Is it because they are overwhelmed and no longer know what day it is? Or am I just overthinking it all?
Last week I took the BIG BOLD step of saying to a very select few that, you know, I’m here on my own, and it would be nice to stay in touch. That’s code for PLEASE CHECK IN FROM TIME TO TIME I AM SO FUCKING ALONE (not so much lonely, though I could really do with a hug). Of course then I felt that maybe that’s a burden, and they’re only staying in touch out of obligation, etc etc., all the stupid insecurity attacks (because if you have to ASK then they don’t really care, right??). There is only one person who I chat with daily I have specifially asked to give a quick call if they don’t hear from me in over 24 hours, just to check. Because I really don’t want to be one of those stories about a woman found dead in her apartment half eaten by cats. And I think there are quite a few of us out there now who need a similar safety net.
Just to say that it’s great if you want to get in touch, I love it, though emails will get a much slower response. Whatsapp is the best for me, but FB messenger and Twitter are also fine. And if you don’t hear back from me please feel free to NUDGE me (really just to remind me) because I am never not replying because I don’t want to. Sometimes the days just slip away from me. Point being, you already know if you’re my friend, so you don’t have to doubt that. And if I can help in any way, please also let me know how. Because we are just experiencing the tip of the iceberg. The rebuilding is going to be just as hard if not harder, and we will need to be able to rely on each other. Much love guys. xx