Isolation and the impact it has had on communication skills

Something I realized this week as I started reaching out to people via phone calls and texts, is that COVID-19 has cured my hatred for talking on the phone. Talking on the phone is something that we all did as teenagers in the 90’s. We didn’t have cell phones or even a home computer in those days. Instead, we spent many hours glued to our phones while hiding in our bedrooms.

I didn’t get my own phone until I was about 17 or 18. And when I did, I spent most nights glued to it. To the point that my dad’s customers couldn’t send faxes. I had to cut my phone usage back to between 9:00 pm and 12:00 am. It’s kind of funny when you think about it now.

But since smart phones came along – most people that I chat with prefer communicating by text. And I am a terrible texter. Give me a computer and a keyboard and I’ll chat your eyes off at 99 wpm. But on a cell phone? I’m all thumbs. No really, all thumbs. I inherited my mother’s fat and wide thumbs. I have to use auto-correct every text I send. It’s painful.

The summer months were better for me. I was able to visit my sister and her family. We had a couple of dinners together with just the kids. We had a nice quiet Thanksgiving in October. And I was allowed to see my dad every Saturday. Even though I wasn’t working during the week, I had a set schedule. Saturday visits with dad. Sunday mornings at my volunteer gig with the church. And the occasional visit with friends – which was rare.

Then September hit and cases were on the rise. We’re seeing numbers as high as 1600-1800 daily here now. The province is in mandatory lockdowns for the next month. People are back to working from home. I went out today for the first time in weeks to attend another funeral. It was small with only ten people. We followed protocols. But I’m afraid that’s it. Services are cancelled until further notice. Visits with dad have been cancelled since October.

My two reasons for leaving the house are now – cancelled. I’m allowed to have people visit me. But most already have their families they live with. It’s going to be a lonely Christmas.

But that’s besides the point.

Last week as I started getting more calls for work reasons, to update some medical information and just day to day business in general, I found myself reaching for the phone to make a call instead of relying on emails. Just hearing someone’s voice on the phone made my day better.

Friends have been reaching out more and more. I had cookies delivered on the weekend. And while I miss human contact in general, and hugs, god I miss hugs – I’m finding that being in isolation has improved my communication skills.

I’m able to discuss my feelings more openly. I have no fear of picking up the phone and calling someone to say hi. I still call my dad daily even if he can’t hear me at best of times. I’m catching up with old friends I haven’t seen in a while.

Zoom chats are more enjoyable and it’s just good to see people’s faces. Masks are so impersonal. And while I understand they are important for our safety, it makes it harder to connect with others in general.

I miss seeing people’s smiling face. I miss hugs. I really, really miss hugs.

And so, those are my thoughts on this sunny day as I wait for another phone call.

I do love this whole being at home all day though. If I can find some work to do on a part-time basis – even better!

How are you coping with isolation these days? Let me know in the comments.

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