The Virus Diaries: Community in Isolation

NB: I am not sick at the time of writing this, but I’ve decided to make this post the first in my “Virus Diaries” series while I wait in self-isolation at home.


If you’re in the same position as many of the people around the world, then you, like me, might be “social distancing” at home the last couple of weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Or perhaps you’re actively quarantined and on official government lockdown like some of my friends. Or maybe you’re just highly introverted or have a disability that prevents you from leaving the house, even when there isn’t a global pandemic going on. Whatever the case, I’ve obviously been thinking a lot lately about feeling connected while in isolation.

Now, this is not going to be a “how to maintain sanity while suddenly working from home” post. While I do already regularly telework once a week, I’m certainly no expert in it. And I tend to break every rule in the book. Plus, I think that a certain level of forgiveness for yourself is necessary in times like these where we might not be home entirely by choice. Plus, better bloggers than I have tackled the subject brilliantly.

Oddly enough, I’ve been less isolated the last two weeks because not only am I working from home, but my husband and toddler are also home. So I get comparatively little time alone. But the one thing that I have had to sacrifice are plans that involve going out with other people. No more tea dates or rehearsals or gym classes. And, surprisingly enough for my introverted self, that’s been tough. But the most poignant thing I’ve noticed since this isolation started is that people in my circles of friends are stepping up and engaging in so much more virtual communication. People are going live on Instagram. People are hosting Zoom play readings. I’ve been added to a Facebook group where we post phone videos of us singing Broadway songs according to the weekly theme. And I’ve found myself involved with some friends on Instagram who are keeping up their fitness routines using the Daily Yoga app.

I was originally enabled by Jude Chao at Fifty Shades of Snail to download and try the Daily Yoga app. While I’m a yogini of twenty years and used to have a very robust home practice, that has changed a lot since having a baby and moving to a smaller house and I’ve found myself lacking the motivation to get up and do yoga in the morning. Couple that with a sudden lack of walking now that I’m no longer walking over a mile each way to get to and from work and I found myself looking at a bout of inactivity-induced depression. So I started posting to their hashtag and tagging the others and linked up with a group of people who are also just trying to beat back inactivity and maybe get a little bit bendier.

Yesterday, I celebrated my fourteenth day of a yoga practice streak, which is the longest I’ve gone since starting on the app a month or so ago. And I seriously couldn’t have done it without the support and accountability of my virtual friends. To celebrate, I ordered some new silver needle white tea and a meditating woman statuette to use as a tea pet on my tray from my favorite local tea shop, Valley Brook Tea.

I think, in general, I’ve found that millennials might be dealing with distancing better because we’re used to “making friends” virtually. I already have a bunch of friends I’ve never met face to face, or have met maybe once in person, but with whom I feel pretty close. So it’s not that big of a stretch to transfer some of my in-person friendships to the virtual world for a while. At the same time, I’m noticing some of my older friends bemoaning the “isolation” because they don’t consider virtual community “real” community. But these are communities. I’ve even heard people insist on calling this “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing” because we can still connect socially, even if we’re not physically in each other’s company.

So I have so much gratitude for my community, virtual or otherwise. Happy distancing.

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5 thoughts on “The Virus Diaries: Community in Isolation

  1. I’m one of the disabled, and therefore permanently indoors, people: the pavements and roads around my way are so bad that I couldn’t self-propel if I had the upper body strength (which I don’t) and so I live indoors. That means there’s no real change for me during lockdown, but I do miss having my friend over for tea. We’re planning to have some Facebook videocalls now and then, as I have a whole load of new teas that she hasn’t tasted yet – and she wants to teach me about coffee.

    I’ve used this time to talk my husband (who is autistic and has executive dysfunction that has turned him into a hoarder) and persuade him to finally get to grips with the piled up electrical stuff that buries the dining room table. Time was, that I’d see a mess and just clear it away – but since breaking my hip two years ago I’ve been completely unable to do that. He still wouldn’t be bothering if I hadn’t signed up for an OU course – and of course I need space for my teawares while I’m studying!

    I might even do some videos for Youtube or Instagram that just show me preparing and drinking tea (with a few facts about the tea I’m drinking). I’m very shy, but I might enjoy it as much as the friends who have requested that I give it a go πŸ™‚

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    1. I find taking video of myself doing tea sessions is a great way to take tasting notes without having to take myself out of the tea experience to write things down! Sometimes things come up in videos I’m filming that I never considered while taking written notes. And know that plenty of us who publish videos are incredibly self-conscious on video! I find editing the hardest part of any video because I have to actually watch myself.

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      1. It’s my voice that I don’t like – my accent is all over the place because I bounce between Essex estuary and broad Gloucestershire! I try to keep my face out of videos and concentrate on the tea tray when I do make videos, but with lockdown that might change. Us humans tend to miss familiar faces after a while, after all πŸ™‚

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  2. I’m mostly enjoying the one hour exercise we are allowed so me and the dog have been out enjoying the fresh air , away from people of course. I love how my friends kids have been doing keep fit with Joe Wicks online and making rainbows to display in the windows. Last night everyone stood in their doorways at 8pm to clap and cheer for the NHS ( national health service) and other key workers, which was very emotional. I’ve signed up for a volunteer service in my localitythat shops for vulnerable people. Everyone’s keeping busy. Xx

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    1. I saw the videos of this on Twitter yesterday and it was so heartening. Nothing like that in the States that I’ve seen, but I remain equal parts grateful for our medical staff and terrified for them.

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