On the Path to Social Dysfunction

by Bob Sparrow

(Because I usually write about where I’ve been or where I’m going, I don’t often sit around pondering my navel, but Covid-19 has changed all that.  In fact, it’s got me thinking about today’s two most-used words, ‘Social Distancing’.  Here’s what I pondered).

“We’re all in this together.” How many times have you heard that?  It’s an oxymoron, spoken mostly by morons.  We are social beings and nothing could be further from the truth than us ‘being in this together’.  We have been ordered to stay apart, with serious repercussions if we don’t!  You could wind up in jail if you disobey – solitary confinement probably!

But the reality is, we’ve experienced social distancing for some time – perhaps since the middle of the last century.  Yes, we, as a species, have been ‘distancing’ ourselves from each other for at least the past 50-60 years – so we should be pretty good at it by now.  Don’t believe me?  Let these ‘Then and Now’ photos tell the story, a story that many of you, who have passed the mid-life crisis phase of your life, have witnessed firsthand.

Remember when you stood around and talked to your friends?  Today’s kids have been physically close, but socially distant.

 

Remember when the neighborhood would get together to play a game?  Now a kid can play a game with another kid half way around the world from his bedroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember when office meetings were a time when the whole staff came together?  Now you can attend the meeting ‘digitally’ in your underwear.  I’m sure you’ve heard that this, like so many other ‘socially distant’ activities, is the ‘new normal’!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember when the family used to go to a game?  Now there is a cardboard cutout in your place and you will root through your phone.

 

Remember when you used to dine out?  Now your meals are delivered to your home.

 

 

Remember the hug?  It’s now been replaced with the elbow bump.  So personal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know what you’re saying – this has all be brought on by Covid-19.  Yes, Covid-19 has exacerbated this issue, but social distancing has been going on for way too long and unless we stop its momentum we’re going to find ourselves as protagonists in an isolated dystopian world, probably in a bubble.    Experts say that Social Distancing leads to loneliness, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, domestic violence, child abuse, increase in suicide and a broad range of other mental and behavioral disorders.  In other words, Social Distancing is NOT GOOD FOR US!

I’m not advocating ignoring the health warnings that have been issued, as random and illogical as some may seem, I’m just saying, for our own health and welfare, when this is all over we need to get back to ‘socially magnetizing’.

 

Stir Crazy? Cabin Fever? Vinophobia?

by Bob Sparrow

Under the heading of ‘Is the cure worse than the disease? I offer some help to those who are going stir-crazy or are experiencing cabin fever.

First some clinical definitions:

‘StirCrazy’, derived from the use of stir to mean ‘prison’; a person is stir-crazy if they are experiencing isolation from civilization.

‘Cabin fever’ refers to the distressing claustrophobic irritability or restlessness experienced when a person, or group, is stuck at an isolated location or in confined quarters for an extended period of time.

You may also want to be on the lookout for ‘vinophobia’ – the fear of running out of wine while in isolation.

Are these ‘diseases’ real psychiatric diagnosis?  No, but they are real things.  Following are some suggestions by clinical psychologist, Joel Klapow, who wrote the suggestions to help people who are cooped up during a snowy winter, but I think you’ll see that they apply to us all during this ‘covid confinement’.  He says . . .

“These maladies are basically your mind’s way of telling you that the environment you are in is less than optimal for normal functioning.  It’s when you’re in a space of restricted freedom for a period of time that you can no longer tolerate.” He offers the following remedies (I offer my snappy rejoinders, following in italics) 

  1. Change your diet

Avoid high carb, high-fat foods, which can make you feel even more inactive. Instead, seek out lean proteins that contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. These can boost your mood, and often contain B12 and vitamin D, which help regulate your emotions.  (This is where that vinophobia comes in – I don’t know about all that omega-3, B-12 crap, but under no circumstance should you take wine out of your diet)

  1. Get outside 

Time in the sun will give you access to Vitamin D, which will boost your mood. (It will also get you away from your spouse and/or family that is by now on your last nerve)

  1. Get regular exercise 

Don’t feel like you need to go to the gym. Anything you do to keep your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day will help your mood. You can just go for a walk, or make a small change in your daily routine to see big changes in your spirits!! (What could be healthier than a good walk to the wine store?  It will be like lifting weights on the way home)

  1. Have a family game night

Get your kids – and yourself – away from computer/tablet/phone screens for a few hours and bond over some board games or puzzles.  (If the board games fail, try hide and seek, but once the family hides, don’t seek)

  1. Throw a party 

While it was nice to bond with your family over a marathon game of Monopoly, you might want to interact with other people. So consider planning a small party for friends or neighbors. Planning and preparing for the event will keep you active and help pass the time. With nice weather you can gather outside.  (My sense is that the most popular ‘party’ will be the party of the first part or the party of the second part in a divorce law suit)

  1. Change your decor

Sometimes, all it takes to make your surroundings feel different is a new look. Hang a picture or some other wall art or simply rearrange your furniture. (A new look could also include a face-lift, hair replacement or a . . . Oh, he’s talking about changing the look of your house – OK, move)

7. Avoid binge-watching 

Catching an entire season of the latest Netflix or Amazon series might seem tempting while you’re so confined, but . . . (there are not buts!  It’s the only thing that makes being cooped up tolerable – sorry I’m not going to feel guilty about that!!)  

8. Take up an indoor hobby 

Being forced inside can give you time to catch up on work or tackle a home improvement project you’ve been putting off. But you’ve also been given a chance to try out a new hobby; be creative – what have you always been interested in, but never had the time to do? (I tend to disagree with Mr. Klapow here, I am already heavily involved in two hobbies, binge-watching the latest Netflix or Amazon series and wine drinking.  My day is full!)

  1. Open the shades

You’ll not only make your surroundings feel brighter, but you’ll also help warm your house.  Once the sun has set, you may want to add ambiance, charm, and light to your rooms with some unique and stylish lighting.  (My surroundings will feel brighter when they are no longer my surroundings.  You want to brighten something up?  Put your ambient charm where the sun don’t shine)

  1. Think spring

We don’t just mean “Keep a positive attitude!” (Although that’s important too). Think about what you want to do when (he had when the snow melts, but for us it’s ) the pandemic is over and things warm up: adventures to take, an gatherings to plan, and new additions and changes to a new life-style.  Cabin fever doesn’t last, but we will. (Think spring my ass, it IS spring and it still sucks; I’m thinking 2021).  

As always, we here at ‘From A Bird’s Eye View’ are here to help you make it through the week.