Are We All Becoming Weirdos?

By Troy Headrick

I’m taking a break from my series on “places that made me,” to share a couple of interesting observations, an article, and some questions.

If you are a regular reader of my posts, you know that I manage a writing center in a college and am currently working remotely as are those tutors who work with me.  Not long ago, during a Zoom meeting—is there any other way to meet these days?—one of my part-time tutors, a brilliant retiree who worked for many years in education, confessed that she’s starting to act “weird” around people.  When I asked her what she meant, she says she looks at them out of the corner of her eye now, when she’s in a public place and wearing a mask, almost as if she feels like those around her can no longer be trusted.

Her confession made me start paying attention to my own behavior.  Lately, I’ve noticed that when we’re outside exercising—my wife and I like to go on longs walks or ride our bikes—we will purposely go out of our way to avoid coming close to people even though we maintain a safe distance and all that.  And we’ve also noticed other people acting the same way when they encounter us.

I’m already a bit of an anti-social weirdo, but I’m beginning to wonder if this pandemic is going to have long-term effects on how I (and we) interact with others.  While wondering about all this, I ran across this article.

Have you noticed any changes in the way you’re interacting with or thinking about people during this period of global illness?  What do you think about the thoughts raised in the article?  I’d like to hear about your experiences.  I’m deeply interested in what’s happening out there.

Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here and his business page can be found here.

65 thoughts on “Are We All Becoming Weirdos?

  1. For me, the thought of going to a busy bar (I’d say club, but am too old) fills me with disgust. Perhaps that’s too strong a word, but I’ve had Covid and it’s not pleasant. I could go so far as to say I’ve become a little too particular about germs and even worse, have a tendency now to get a tad sanctimonious if I see people not adhering to the rules. At Heathrow a few weeks ago I had the audacity to approach a man with two women and their child and suggested that they might like to don a mask. When they laughed at me and carried on walking, I persevered more firmly and eventually had to give up as they were having none of it. Frankly I probably looked like a complete loon, but I was incensed that they were being so utterly thoughtless. I’m clearly becoming (read, ‘am’) a grumpy old woman. Lovely piece you wrote there, hats off. Made me think and I like that. Best wishes, Katie

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve had some weird reactions recently. I’ve turned a bit judgmental when I see people flaunting basic safety measures. I’ve even had odd rages while observing people behave unsafely. This is not me in normal situations. I’m generally a very easy-going person–and am really against judgmetalism in general. It might be because I believe strongly in the notion of a quaint notion called “the common good.” Plus, many of those who go against the wearing of masks and such are doing so because they no longer beleive in rationalism–in the idea that cause and effect exists. As a rationalist, secularist, and humanist, I find this offensive.

      1. Yes, I’m with you… So I’m living out in the States in New York at the moment where everyone adheres to the rules. I’ve found that I like this very black and white strictness. There’s no room for error or any grey areas to hide behind. I’m used to the U.K. and spent some weeks this summer in France and, briefly, Spain and the U.K. … All having very different rules and attitudes. Really interesting and I think it taught me that I like rules and clarity. I like to know where I am, otherwise I’d happily go off the rails.

      2. I currently live in San Antonio, Texas, a city where many seem to be taking the virus seriously. Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be said for people living in other cities and towns in the state. The south, in general, is full of people who seem to think they’re invincible. I’d be interested to learn more about your experiences in the various European countries you mentioned. Having both lived and traveled in Europe (and Asia and Africa), I would imagine that the Europeans have a more “collectivist” outlook on life and would therefore be more willing to think of others in their actions.

  2. Great post, made me think, I know I’ve noticed the people who sneeze or cough and don’t seem to cover in any way. Not sure I noticed them that much before 🤔

  3. I usually avoid people while walking. Locally I’m usually walking a dog and I try to avoid people so as not to worry them. Not everyone loved dogs. Farther afield, my sartorial selection may cause me to avoid them by a literal mile. I don’t think COVID has cause me to stay away much more than normal but then hand shaking distance is my normal outdoor personal space.

    People do freak out about the mask thing. Say you want to give someone a glowing smile. Or purse your lips in disapproval. Or lick you lips in lust. Not gonna matter. A whole bunch of nonverbal communication is lost. We are culturally indoctrinated that a mask is for the bad guys to hide their identity and their intentions. Leaves a twinge of paranoia when a signal we automatically look for is gone.

    Consciously we understand but subconsciously it is mildly unsettling. I believe that is behind a lot of the resistance to mandatory masks. Individual rights is just the hook the hat is hung upon. If you don’t think COVID-19 is all that bad to start with, a mask can produce a reaction far in excess of what the inconvenience would call for.

    Weird? Who’s weird?

    1. Your comment, as usual, was thought-provoking. Your observation about masks having connotative associations that are negative was interesting. Robbers do us masks, don’t they? And we often think that people who are being disingenous are wearing metaphorical “masks.”

      I saw a protest sign a few weeks ago–back during the period of unrest that occurred during the summer in the US–that read: “If you dislike the mask, you’re going to hate the ventilator.” I thought that was extremely clever and made a powerful point without being preachy.

      Being a “people watcher” and an observer of human nature, I’m really interested to see how all this enforced aloness is going to play out. Humans are a mystery. In some ways, we seem extremely rigid. In others, we seem very malleable.

      As usual, thanks so much for your excellent comment.

      1. When a person who is an Aspie tries to behave like a neurotypical, it is called “masking.” Extremely negative connotations yet a neccessary evil in my world.

  4. I live in a building with an elevator. We were all instructed to use the elevator, one party at a time. Yesterday when I approached the elevator a woman standing in front of it became very agitated. Clearly, because I was approaching. When the elevator door opened, she rushed in. As the door closed, I heard her spraying the interior of the elevator. I assumed it was some germ killer. Last year I would see her and her husband and ride the elevator with them all the time. She would speak to me and all was good. It’s sad.

    It’s weird how we alter our behaviors given our level of fear or threat.

    I am an INFJ on the Myers Briggs Personality test. I am very introverted which some see as anti-social. I’m not, but I need to re-charge after meeting with people, even on Zoom. A psychologist I used to work with told me that introverts get their energy while alone and extroverts get their energy being around people. Extroverts need people around them to feel “alive.”

    I’ve been to some Zoom meetings where a few just can’t stand not meeting in person and consequently they don’t show up or talk too much and ask a lot of questions, which they rarely do otherwise. These are the extroverts.

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an extrovert and be told you cannot go to the gym, restaurant, club, or meeting and when you go out you’re separated from others with a mask and plastic sheets separating people. It must be very challenging for them. For them it may feel as though they are “dying” or lacking energy.

    This pandemic experience made me re-think “small talk.” Sometimes a simple connection with someone really makes their day. It may even energize them. I’ve re-thought what the concept of introversion and extroversion means to us and the underling meaning of a one-on-one-meeting or a group meeting. I think most of us realize we need to be more open and honest in our “meetings” and communication. It’s OK to just acknowledge someone for being there. We need to see faces, some more than others. I am learning a lot from the expression in someone’s eyes.

    I appreciate the article. Take care.

    1. Your comment really resonated with me, Tim. I am an ENTP and have gradually felt the “lights going out” in terms of my energy and motivation but what your comment helped me see is that it’s not so much the isolation that’s doing it. It’s the fact that the energy I normally draw from interactions with others is now more toxic and hysterical and I find it far more wearing to interact with others than I do to be alone.
      Although I think there are many positives to come from ‘breaking’ the world as we know it, I very much hope we manage to find our way back to positive interactions with each other.

    2. Hi, Tim. It’s always nice to hear from you. I think we must have similar personalities. I’m likely clinically introverted; although, I’ve never taken (not that I can remember) any sort of test that would confirm that.

      In my neighborhood, I’ve noticed that few say “hello” anymore when passing one another on nightly walks. It’s almost as if people have woven these little cocoons around themselves and are no longer acknowledging those who happen to be on the other side of those barriers.

      I found the anecdotes you included in your comment extremely interesting and even a bit humorous, especially the one where you could hear the woman spraying something in the elevator.

      When I lived in the UAE, lots of women would cover their faces so that only their eyes were exposed. I noticed that many of them were extremely skillful in expressing lots of emotion with just that limited part of their faces showing.

      Thanks for the comment, Tim. You expanded my thinking on this subject in interesting ways.

  5. I wonder about the long term effects of social distancing. Sometimes I think we’ll get back to being closer once we’re through with the quarantine, but other times I worry if the personal gulfs we’ve created for safety reasons will be with us for longer than i imagined. Time will tell.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Robert. Like you, I wonder if these changes are temporary or will become permanent. I suppose it depends on how long this health crisis lasts and how many people are eventually “touched” by it in some form or fashion. In the beginning, I didn’t know anyone who caught COVID-19, but now, months later, I know several. In fact, my elderly mother just learned that she’s been around a person who tested positive. Thank goodness, so far, she’s OK, but it feels like this sickness is getting closer and closer.

      1. Hope your mother avoids the Covid, best of luck!
        Here where I live in Santa Cruz County we’ve had 2,618 confirmed cases and 23 deaths, and with a county population of about 260,000 that puts us at around a 1%, so I feel pretty safe here. But just south of us, Monterey County has had over 10,600 cases and 81 deaths. They do have a larger population, about 415,000, but that’s still a larger percentage of cases, about 2.5%. So far I don’t know personally anyone infected with Covid 19, but that could change if this pandemic keeps going on. Cases in California are starting to plateau, and hopefully soon cases will start going down for us and everywhere else.

      2. I hope your predictions come true, Robert. I’ve been reading about dire things happening in Europe and remember how what happened in that part of the world was a precursor for what eventually took place here. I guess we’ll have to continue to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, far too many people have short attention spans. Thanks for the kind words about my mom.

  6. Nice post, Troy. I was actually just thinking about this. We’ll probably need special training (therapy?) in order to go back to “normal” society. Simply put, this pandemic has had more effects than just that of the virus. Introverted or extroverted, this time is testing us, and majorly. Whether or not we leave our houses anytime soon, may we approach each day with humility and compassion. 🕊

    1. Let’s hope that at least some learn humility, kindness, and empathy from this ordeal. In some ways, I hope we don’t go back to “normal.” If you haven’t read all of the comments on this thread, you ought to do so. There are some amazing anecdotes and prognostications here. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  7. I can see people avoiding people, it’s just like we are judging others, or wondering if outside they are infected or not. And, the more stranger, the more mistrust. Hard times, we wanna protect the loved ones, but we are afraid of being infected and maybe infect others as well.

    1. Hi, Juliano. I think you’re in Brazil, right? So, what we’re seeing happening in the US is also happening elsewhere. I guess human beings are human beings are human beings no matter where they live. Thanks so much for the comment.

  8. Troy, at the beginning of April, I had a months-long illness, was hospitalized for 4 days on IV antibiotics and was on oral antibiotics… for a total of 2 months on antibiotics. There were no fever or breathing issues. I thought Robert and I both had food poisoning. He recovered, and my illness escalated to violent diarrhea, diverticulitis, kidney infection, and ovarian cysts. I did notice a loss of taste for a few days, but thought nothing of it. I am still recovering my strength and trying to get completely back on a normal diet.

    As more symptoms of Covid19 began to be known, I began to suspect that we had had coronavirus. Yesterday, I went for a checkup and asked the doctor what he thought. He said that we had probably had coronavirus. In early February, he and his wife had what seemed to be a very bad flu. They now think it was coronavirus. She lost her sense of taste for several weeks.

    It’s too late for an antibody test, although the doctor thinks we may have some residual immunity. I think the idea of “herd immunity” may be a pipe dream, because antibodies usually don’t last very long in the body.

    As far as acting “weird,” I don’t think it’s an illusion. I am anxious when going to the grocery store, I have had some insomnia, and feel tired and sometimes irritable or withdrawn. It annoys me when someone is not wearing their mask. The article you posted describes it pretty well.

    Stay safe and happy! Cheryl

    1. I’m weird because I love people and human contact which is necessary for our development so I too fear what a year of this is doing to our long term health.

      Do you remember when you learnt about the world wars and those disturbing videos of shell shock? Future generations will possibly be watching the effects of this pandemic on us …

      1. I think you might be right. Future generations will look back at this period and wonder how we made it. (Of course, many of us won’t make it.) We are very divided in our responses. Some of us are learning empathy and kindness and others seem to be looking at this time as an opportunity to make fun of those who want to stay safe. I know that I feel fortunate. I still have my job. My family has remained relatively untouched. My wife has the sort of business that has survived this ordeal. So far, so good. But I feel terrible for those who lost loved ones, jobs, and suffered in all sorts of ways. Thanks so much for contributing to this discussion.

    2. That sounds terrible, Cheryl. I was also sick earlier in the year and wonder about what I had. This virus is such a strange illness. Some get it and have almost no indications that they’re sick and others get it and decline rapidly. I was listening to a renowned virulogist talking about “herd immunity” the other day, and he said, from a public health standardpoint, the notion had the value of “pixie dust.” He also said taking such a path would be immoral because it would be like sacrificing 2 million lives. (I’ve repeatedly seen that simply allowing the virus to run roughshod through the population–as those advocating herd immunity would allow–would cost us around that many dead.) Thanks so much for sharing your harrowing story about the sickness you had in the past. I hope you and yours continued good health going forward!

  9. Yes..
    Small behavioural changes are developing in all…the felt need to use sanitiser every now and then maintain distance ..during walks avoiding crowded places…but I think that is a natural reaction of a mind obsessed with fear…the situation will remain so till the fear is overcome …it does not seem to be happening soon🙏🙏

    1. Thanks, Krish, for the comment. Do you live in the US or elsewhere? If you live outside the US, I’d like to hear more about how people (in your country) are dealing with this.

  10. Your post touches on feelings I think most feel these days. When I was a kid, some said we should avoid those with “cuties.” That is how I feel when people pull up their masks and/or cross the street when I approach. Or, step off the trail during a hike.
    Seeing people in masks makes me feel like I am on another planet. Honestly, I wonder what we are all doing? I know about safety, but what about being human? How long are we going to do this? Years? The rest of our lives? Are we ceasing to live before we die?

    1. You’ve asked some very interesting questions. I see this as an opportunity to grow. One of the greatest life skills of all is adaptability. Constancy is simply an illusion that we create to make us feel better–a mental contruct that really has no bearing on reality. All things are in a state of perpetual flux. In an odd way, this has the potential to bring us together. We learn our interconnectedness. None of us is safe unless we’re all safe. Thanks for the comment.

  11. Oh my! In my neighbourhood right now Troy, we don’t stop to greet others anymore – weird. We only wave hands or bow our heads from a distance which is not in our culture at all. We are becoming more isolated and quiet around each other. This may not be because we are trying to observe the distancing rule but the effect of it – which might stick around for a while long after.

    1. May I ask where you live? I ask this because you’re talk about what is normal in your culture. I suspect that standoffishness is on the rise everywhere. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  12. oh my goodness I feel and act the same way! I already have little confidence as it is but ever since the pandemic started I noticed the way more awkward way I started to interact with other people. I sometimes stutter when speaking or formulate my thoughts into words, maybe it has something to do with the anxiety of talking to someone who is a potential covid carrier but I think it’s more on the fact that it’s been a long time since I have interacted with anyone that I feel so subconscious. Glad to know that i’m not the only one who feel this way though.

    1. It’s so weird that you mention stuttering, Fen. I work from home now and am no where near as social as I used to be. Like you, I’ve felt awkward when talking with people recently. This feeling of discomfort isn’t always there, but it’s there more than it used to be. I have even had conversations where I had to think about how to greet people properly and how to keep a conversation moving–things that used to be automatic with me. I’m studying myself and others a lot at this time. And I’m curious how this is going to continue to play out. Thanks so much for your comment!

  13. Prior to the pandemic, I was a homebody of sorts. I liked to go out to eat and experience limited social interaction as a regular with certain restaurant employees. But, otherwise, a great day to me was sitting on my couch watching sports, movies, and television shows. If the weather was nice, a good walk in the woods. Or a drive in the countryside. I like my friends and attended their get-togethers, but I found them draining to the point I would skip certain things when I started to feel overwhelmed.

    During the pandemic, those get-togethers have stopped, so I feel relief from the guilt of being an introvert.

    1. I would imagine that introverts are actually thriving right now for the reason you mentioned in your comment–that such folks now have a perfect excuse for their aloofness. Extroverts, on the other hand, are probably very distressed. (It would be interesting to see if extroverts are getting sicker are at a higher rate than introverts are; my guess is that they are.) Like you, I tend to be an introvert and find social gatherings sometimes a bit too taxing. In fact, given the choice, I’d rather stay at home and just do something alone or with my wife. Take care, man, and stay safe! Thanks for the comment.

  14. Prior to the pandemic, I was a homebody of sorts. I liked to go out to eat and experience limited social interaction as a regular with certain restaurant employees. But, otherwise, a great day to me was sitting on my couch watching sports, movies, and television shows. If the weather was nice, a good walk in the woods. Or a drive in the countryside. I like my friends and attended their get-togethers, but I found them draining to the point I would skip certain things when I started to feel overwhelmed.

    During the pandemic, those get-togethers have stopped, so I feel relief from the guilt of being an introvert.

    1. I miss visiting family members. I’ve mostly stayed away from people since all this started. The holiday season is coming in the US too. I would imagine that there will be fewer gatherings in the coming weeks. Take care and hang in there!

    1. I’m getting used to seeing people’s faces on my computer screen. I guess we’re all getting very familiar with Zoom and Skype and such. Thanks, whimsical90, for contributing to this interesting conversation.

  15. Good afternoon Troy (and any readers). Here is a comment from Portuguese coast.

    There are changes, inevitable as they are. And these changes that are still shaping up, are simply sneaking in, like water seeping through a hair-thin hole, and you do not notice or recognize it until it´s a large stain.
    People have less confidence in “them” who are not “us”. Around here people avoid looking directly at each other, especially when masked. As much as I appreciated the anonymity of sunglasses, I feel more “naked” now we hide complete face.
    Spoke to one of my tai chi students yesterday, after our lesson in the open air. She feels the same changes in the air: lack of confidence and usually calm people being agitated and/ or aggressive.
    And this is only what we notice right now…..

    1. I’m glad you’re participating in this interesting conversation. By the way, I’ve been to Lisbon and found it to be one of my favorite places in the world (and I’ve lived in six countries and been a tourist in dozens of places). In fact, my wife and have even talked about moving to Portugal–I have done some research on Coimbra.

      I work at home now and am far more limited in my social interactions with people. Lately, I’ve noticed an odd thing. When talking with people (from behind a mask of course), I’ve felt very verbally awkward. I now have to remind myself about how and when to propertly greet people, and I have a bit more trouble keeping conversations moving. I feel that I’ve become something of a language minimalist when engaging in face-to-face interactions. (I’ve gotten better at using Zoom, though.)

      The whole us-versus-them divide is huge in America right now. Certain ugly political leaders are exploiting this divide, and it’s even changed the sort of public health choices people make–as if a virus cared about politics. Wearing a mask is now seen as a political repudiation of Trump and Trumpism, and not wearing a mask is a sign that one is “brave” and stands in solidarity with the US president and his minions. Is there such a divide in Portugal?

      At a time when the citizens of the US need solidarity, we are incredibly fractured.

  16. Hi Troy – I’ve noticed all sorts here in HK. Especially early on during the pandemic. People were wearing giant plastic bottles over their heads – No one dared to hold onto hand rails on the underground (not the safest idea). I found myself washing/sanitising my hands far more than is sensible (I would say borderline obsessive). My 2 year old son insists on wearing a mask now because everyone else does – he doesn’t know any difference. What worries me is he hasn’t been sick at all this year (not normal for a 2 year old) and I worry he isn’t getting the exposure to germs he should! Come to think of it I haven’t either… I suspect we may be raising an entire generation of germaphobes! One thing that might come of this is the death of the handshake – few people will accept one nowadays (elbow bumps are the new norm!). Social anxiety it seems might just be the tip of iceberg. Interesting topic you bring up – thanks for sharing the article too. Wishing you well, AP2 🙏

    1. So, you’re in Hong Kong! I didn’t realize that. That area of the planet is one of the few I haven’t spent time in. Earlier this year, about the time the virus really got started, i got a job offer from The American University of Phnom Penh, in Cambodia, but my wife talked me out of taking it.

      That image–of folks wearing plastic bottles on their heads–made me chuckle. Reminds me a bit of when I was in Egypt during the uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Lots of people went to protests wearing pots and pans as helmets.

      So your son hasn’t been sick enough! Interesting take! I guess this period of time is turning many of our normal ways of seeing things upside-down.

      I’m curious where all this is taking us. Who knows? I guess we’ll have to wait and see how we evolve during this period that requires flexibility and adaptability.

      I alway appreciate your comments, and I really liked this one. It made me laugh and prompted me to put on my thinking cap.

      1. Yes I’ve lived here on and off since I was 6 years old. Going back to the UK for my secondary and university education before coming back here for work.

        Phnom Penh would have been a very interesting place to work. Cambodia is such a beautiful place.

        Yeah I see parents washing their children’s hands all the time. As soon as they have finished playing in the park, etc. I fear we’re preventing their natural immune systems from building properly. Anyway we shall see as you say!

        Thanks Troy. Engaging chat as always!

      2. I actually posted a response but it didn’t show up for some reason. Living an international lifestyle is very cool and great for kids too. I spent nearly two decades abroad and am chomping at the bit to pull up stakes and take off again. Being married to am Egyptian means that I’m always aware of what’s going on “out there.” Lately, I’ve been lobbying my wife for us to do a very early retirement. We’ve got investments that would allow us to do so. I’ve even done research into possible retirement spots. How do you like HK? I’m often being contacted by recruiters in China and often wonder what it would be like to live in that part of the world. I think the air pollution would be the greatest drawback for me. Having lived in Cairo for seven years, I know what that sort of problem is like.

      3. HK is a great city but has gone through some very sad changes in recent years. It’s glory days are well and truly behind. Pollution is an issue, esp in the winter months when the wind is from the north. However HK will always be home for me. The people are wonderful. The food is spectacular. Best skyline in the world if you ask me. It‘s an incredible blend of east meets west following 100 years of colonial rule. Sadly that’s being eroded away. As a tourist it’s still well worth putting on your bucket list but I’d say the sooner the better. Honestly I don’t see my longer term future here for those reasons. But I’ll always come back. I think in my retirement I’d like to split my time between my favourite places across the world. I’ve built my life around travel. It’s been odd not having travelled anywhere this year. I miss it desperately too.

      4. Your description of HK sounds a lot like the US–both places have seen better times and are well past their glory days. I’ve also not traveled for quite a long while and have felt stultified as a result. It’s not just the body that needs to move around. The mind needs new stimuli. There is something renewing about being plopped down in a place where nothing is familiar and one feels acutely “foreign.” Thanks for the comment. We’ll have some good news for you pretty soon.

    1. Good question. This is definitely an interesting time to be alive. If you like to people watch and study human nature, there’s plenty of grist for those mills duriing this period. Thanks for the comment.

  17. Yes! I definitely see / feel a difference in social, and even incidental interactions. My husband has always been a bit paranoid about germs and overly-social interactions, partly because of the way he was raised, and also because he has a medical condition. He appears downright normal now, whatever that is supposed to typify! In any case, I find myself falling more into his range of overly-zealous hand washing, mask wearing, glove-donning behaviors that he had way before the pandemic. I find myself crossing the street on my walks even though I social distance, and my neighbors do the same. Very few conversations, or even greetings, pass between us. I see my family way less, and this increases my anxiety for their welfare. Is this my new normal? Apparently so, at least for now.

    1. I’m wondering about your husband. This must be a very challenging time for him. How’s he doing?

      I think I had something akin to a hand-washing obsession earlier on. I probably washed my hands more than two dozen times a day. Now, I’m more into masks and have gotten slightly less compulsive about hand hygiene. It seems that epidemiologists have gone in the direction of more pro-masking wearing and talking less about washing the hands. (I hope they don’t start advocating that we should begin walking backwards or such thing.)

      I’m a bit of an introvert so I’m dealing with this fairly well. Plus, I spent lots of years living abroad, in fairly challenging conditions, so this feels like a piece of cake. I would imagine extroverts are suffering more than I am.

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. I really appreciated your participation in this interesting discussion.

  18. One positive thing I found during our lockdown in New Zealand was awareness of personal space which so often does not exist. When walking in the local park people would step slightly off the path into the brush to give appropriate space to pass comfortable, a smile and a greeting was always offered, and when entering or exiting a building there was a courteous “you before be” attitude, rather than expecting to be first. Before the onset of the pandemic it was usual to see a group expand to fill the entire width of a footpath, or expect someone trying to get past in a tightly packed restaurant to go a different way, or inadvertently push others into discomfort rather than taking it upon ourselves to do.

    Unfortunately now we are out of our first lockdown (heaven forbid there be another one here, and I pray for the ease of Covid-19 all around the world) socially selfish behaviour seems to be returning. I think we need to be assertive in first leaning into discomfort ourselves rather than expecting others to do so. One of my favourite sayings recently is “Do more than the minimum”. I’m sure I’m not the one that thought of it first, but it speaks to me. Emptying the dishwasher? Load the dirty dishes too. Walking on the footpath in a group? Be aware of people in front and behind. Entering or leaving a building? Be aware others might wish for have slightly more social distance.

    Peace to you Troy.

    1. Hi, Hamish. I had an interesting experience a couple of nights ago. My wife and I were out for a walk, about sundown, when we ran into one of our neighbors, a fellow who is originally from Nigeria. He walks about the same time we walk and/or ride our bikes. He invited us to walk with him and we did so. We hadn’t anticipated meeting or exercising with anyone so we didn’t have our masks, and he didn’t have one either. I got a bit nervous because he kept stepping toward me and I kept stepping back. Finally, I said, “Excuse me, but I just want to keep a safe distance.” He laughed but then started stepping toward me again. I guess we are naturally hardwired to be a certain distance from one another. Your comments about giving people space really resonated with me and immediately reminded me of the story I just told. Peace by with you, Hamish.

      1. With the way the world is at the moment we need to respect the space others feel they need even more than we might usually.

        One thing my Dungeons & Dragons group is good at reminding me is ‘Consent is important’. You clearly stated your discomfort and it was up to your neighbour to respect that. Sometimes we can laugh something off that is actually really imoortant to someone else. By listening to them and *hearing* what they are saying, we will grow our relationship with that person.

        Thank you for sharing the story, and kudos for speaking up. I hope you and your wife go well into the rest of your week. 😊

  19. I actually crave social gatherings and they somehow make me feel that that “all is well” 🙂 Being alone could have affected my mind in an adverse way while this pandemic is around.

    1. Hi. Thanks for the comment and for sharing your story. In one or two places here, I’ve mentioned that I think extroverts are probably having a harder time right now than introverts are. Do you consider yourself an extrovert? If so, I can imagine how you might be feeling.

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