No humor today. I’m dead serious. We can’t go on like this.
I’m recording this on May 27, 2020. We have been on Wuhan virus lockdown for ten weeks or more. I have said nothing about the quarantine and other public health measures since the beginning of this whole saga. But I can no longer remain silent. I’m seeing people coming unglued from lack of human contact.
Let’s cut straight to the chase. Humans are social creatures. We need other people. We need to look at other people to see how they are reacting to us. Are we behaving and thinking in a socially appropriate manner? Or are we going off the rails? That is pretty hard to know if you are all by yourself.
Maybe you are seeing signs of this in people around you. You’re seeing people who are over-reactive. Maybe they’ve had too much “social media,” which at some point becomes “anti-social media.” People fly off the handle. People being angry, all out of proportion to what is actually happening. People saying things on-line they’d never say in person. People walking down the street or in a store, afraid to make eye contact.
Maybe this isn’t a problem for you. But maybe you know people who are living close to the edge, mentally. Someone who is prone to depression. Or someone who is prone to self-medicating with food or on-line porn. A person in recovery from an addiction. Their 12 Step meetings kept them grounded. Now their meetings are gone.
Maybe you know someone on a variety of medications. Those meds worked fine together under normal circumstances. But prolonged social isolation is not a normal circumstance. They need to change up the meds somehow. But they can’t do that alone. They need someone with them, at the doctor’s office. But no one can go to the doctor with them. They need someone looking in on them when they’re at home. And they don’t have that.
Maybe you know someone whose grip on reality was never so great. They’re a good person. But they get a goofy idea in their minds. They need someone to talk them off the ledge. Or take them by the hand. Or pat them on the shoulder. They don’t have anyone to do that for them right now. They get an idea in their minds, maybe a perfectly ok idea in moderation. But they don’t have their own set of brakes. They go sailing right off the edge with that reasonable idea that became an obsession.
Look. We need each other. And we need more than “virtual” contact. We need the real deal, physical presence, physical touch.
So, here’s my advice. Make a phone call, instead of texting or emailing. Meet in person instead of calling.
And now I’m going to come right out and say something totally subversive of our current public health establishment. Go hug someone. Use some judgement of course. Don’t just barge into people’s space. Ask them, “Would you like a hug?” Or, say, “I really need a hug. Would you be willing to give me a hug?”
I don’t care what the infectious disease people say. I really don’t. The kind of isolation we’ve been enduring is not healthy. Being scared all the time is not healthy. We can’t go on like this. You need your hugs. You need to be touched. And someone you know needs it too.
I’m Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse for the Ruth Institute. I’ll see you next time.
Week 5, Day 1, recorded May 27, 2020. Dr J’s Daily Chats.