by Dauphine Vernimmen
Silence. Empty streets, empty cities and closed restaurants. The noise moved to our computers. Everything is going online: work, friendships and meetings. All of us soon adapted to interacting with friends and loved ones solely through screens. Speaking to friends through WhatsApp and having daily Zoom meetings is useful to stay in touch but it is not the same as it used to be when we were having face to face conversations. It feels like it will never be the same again. And it sucks. So, the question is: How does this “new normal” affect our friendships?
The dynamics in friendship groups are changing and there are lessons to be learned from the changes brought by the limited contact. In my group of friends, those that were shy are now the first one to enter the Zoom calls and the last ones out. The friends who always had a big mouth, do not like this new way of interacting and would rather have us meeting face to face again. I also notice which friends are putting in the same energy to stay in contact and who do not. This is the time where I can find out who should stay in my life and bring me joy and whom I can cut off. If you feel that your effort is not being returned, it might be worth considering that maybe that friendship is not as important as it might have seemed when seeing each other was easier.
Before COVID-19, a lot of us were taking our social interactions for granted. I used to be the kind of person that is terrible at keeping in touch. But now, I am becoming more aware of how important it is to stay connected with fellow humans and close friends. That type of appreciation is now expressed by turning on the computer and entering a Zoom call, which is very different to regular phone calls. Prior to the pandemic, those regular phone calls with friends felt like just another phone call to me. I would not be appreciated as much as I do now.
Hopefully, many found this new appreciation for friendships and will keep it – even after we have survived the pandemic. Nobody knows how long it will go on, but there is one thing we all know: Only together will we be able to get through it.