Since lockdown began, you’ve been
online 24/7. If it’s not working from home, it’s homeschooling your children.
From there it’s Facetime with family, Zoom happy hours with friends, or even
(depending on how apocalyptic you feel) WhatsApping your ex.
Then it’s Netflix. Maybe a streaming
theatre production or concert. Then an online yoga or fitness lesson. Shopping
online. Hours of TV.
And that’s all before you check the
news. You hop from one news site to Facebook post to another, hoovering up the
latest statistics and conflicting statements on masks, gloves, coronavirus
symptoms and social distancing rules, trying to make sense of it all.
You’re plugged in, connected and
online. Every minute of the day.
In the history of the world, we have
never more needed to step away from the screen than now.
But how can we get away – without
getting that far? How can we keep social distance – without feeling totally
Try rummaging around in your desk
drawer. On that old mug bristling on a table top. Check your work bag or
briefcase (the one that’s been gathering dust these last two months at home).
You’ll probably find more than one example of what could be called the original
social distance tool:
Think about it. Pens were created to
record your thoughts. Slowly. Writing allows you to crystalize and condense
your ideas, and review them as you put them down. It’s the perfect balm for a
hectic, harried and over-taxed mind.
What’s more, pens were created with
social distance in mind. Like with many modern digital tools, you can
communicate across time and distance. But unlike email, texts and tweets,
there’s no way to get dragged into a heated argument or go chasing a quick
dopamine boost when a notification pops up demanding you respond. Pens help you
keep a healthy social distance.
And when the world is so complicated,
and we’re struggling to figure out the latest features and updates on the
latest digital tools we’ve all had to adopt for working, playing, and learning
from home, there’s something genuinely refreshing about a tool that just does
one thing really really well.
So why not pick up a pen and give it a
Write down your post-lockdown aspirations. A to-do list. A silly Post-It note to self. Send that holiday postcard you bought with all the best intentions in the world, but never wrote. Or send a letter to someone special. Sure, you could just add one more email to their Gmail inbox, but these days there’s perhaps no better way to cut through the digital clutter than with the warmth and empathy of an actual physical letter (and in times like these, who couldn’t use a bit more warmth and empathy?). All else may be closed, but your post office is open.
In this always-on era, we may not be
able to disconnect for long. But we’ll still need to keep our distance. To do
that (with apologies to The Beatles) you can get by with a little help from