What Social Distancing Means for Humans

As COVID-19 spreads around the globe and the world’s governments try to keep the cases at bay, a new phrase has cropped up: social distancing. In a nutshell, it means keeping away from people to limit the spread of infection, particularly when transmitted through the air.

For many of us, this means staying at home when we’d normally be out and about – whether it be shopping, dining out, or simply going to work. Some governments have outright prohibited all non-essential travel (the definition of essential, of course, is up for debate), meaning that for many of us, the normal social contact we would have with other people is at an absolute minimum.

At first, the introvert in me would want to think of this as a good thing; who wants to have to interact with other people anyway? But as the days wear on, it becomes increasingly evident that, even for the most antisocial among us, human contact is an essential part of our nature.

You see, humans – like many, many other animals – are inherently social creatures. We thrive when we are in a community, and perish in isolation. There’s a great deal of study into the psychology of this, but the bottom line is that people need each other to stay sane.

If this is the case, then what happens when we are forced into isolation? Whilst many of us are in isolation with a few other people, there are nonetheless some of us – those who live alone – who now have no physical connection to other people for days, if not weeks, at a time. Even if you live with someone, the limited social interaction of just a couple of other people is no comparison to the wealth of stimuli that comes from being able to simply talk to different people, with different perspectives, throughout your day.

Even as a fairly hardcore introvert (I get easily exhausted interacting with people), my day is usually filled with human interaction and socialization, and I use alone time to recuperate. Now that I’m working from home, the conversations with my colleagues and clients are at a bare minimum, and I find myself at times bored to tears.

Perhaps the only good news is that this particular pandemic has hit us at a time when we’re still able to socialize to a reasonable degree remotely, through technology. In fact, for our children, who are so used to socializing virtually, I suspect this quarantine is having a significantly lesser impact that it has had on adults who grew up having to interact in person. Through FaceTime, social media and online servers, we’re able to at the very least get the input from others that create intellectual stimulus, even if we aren’t benefiting from the more visceral reactions of being able to physically see, hear, and speak to others in person.

I have regular virtual meetings for my work, as does my wife; my son is taking online classes from school through which he can directly interact with his teachers. I can call, text, or message people anytime I like. I can still interact.

But none of this replaces the need we have for physical human interaction, and I worry that society as a whole may soon face a terrible choice: do we maintain our physical health at the expense of our mental health, or do we venture out and about, risking exposure to a potentially deadly virus, just to stay sane?

There are no easy answers at a time like this, but with COVID-19 seeming unlikely to disappear anytime soon, there may be some drastic changes that will have to be made, simply in order to protect the survival of human society. And what happens when the next viral outbreak comes? What happens when a plague of considerably greater deadliness comes around? Without sounding too apocalyptical about it, humanity may have never faced a greater threat to our overall societal well-being.

What are your thoughts? How will we survive this, mentally and physically? And what do you think the long-term prospects for our culture and civilization are?

Thought of the Week: Resolutions

Don’t forget, you can be reading your copy of The Redemption of Erâth: Consolation in just a few minutes for only $3.99! Click here to buy.

***

I realize it’s a little late in the month for New Year’s resolutions, but I figure late is better than never, and besides, I’ll never keep to all (or any) of them. In fact, I’m generally not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions; I find it a bit twee, and lacking in any real substance. However, there are a few things I’d like to improve upon over the following few weeks and months, and if the New Year is an excuse to set them down in writing, then I’m game for it.

Following on somewhat from last week’s posts about lists, here is a list of the things I would like to accomplish over the next year:

1. Blog more.

Vintage typewriter 2

This is a big one. As a writer, I should be writing all the time. Having said that, I posted 44 entries on satiswrites.com last year; that doesn’t even average once a week! Most of them were posts of chapters from The Redemption of Erâth, too, which means the total number of actual blog posts, such as Thought of the Week, were absolutely minimal. There are 49 weeks left in this year, and I want to commit to posting at least one post a week in the Thought of the Week category. I also want to resurrect a few other categories, such as Music I Love and Daily Photos.

2. Read more.

best-books

This is also a big one. As a writer, there’s no excuse for not reading, yet I simply don’t do it. I want to read at least one (just one!) book to myself—that is to say, not a book I read to Little Satis for bed time, although those stories have been immensely enjoyable. I also want to read more of your words, which leads to …

3. Interact with the blogging community more.

Community-Cutouts-edit11

There are so many incredibly talented, intelligent and worthwhile people out there writing their hearts out for others to read, and I really want to get back into the community that made my blog worth writing in the first place. I want to commit to spending at least some time each week reading through the WordPress.com Reader, and liking/commenting on a handful of posts when I do. In particular I want to read/watch more of what my very good writing friend Alexandra Corinth has to say.

4. Lose weight.

Scale5

This isn’t so crucial, but I’m about 20 lbs overweight, and I’d like to shed some of that over the next few months if I can. I hate you, exercise bike.

5. Publish The Redemption of Erâth: Exile.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.22.20 PM

This is huge. I managed to get The Redemption of Erâth: Consolation published by July 2014; I’d very much like to see a summer launch for Exile if it’s within the realms of possibility. Whether this means self-publishing again, or seeking agent representation, I don’t know, but I don’t want to keep my (currently very few) fans waiting longer than they need to!

There are plenty more things I’m sure I’d like to accomplish, but I think I’ll leave it at five for the moment: I don’t want to tax myself too much!

What are your resolutions for this year?

Featured image from http://allisonpataki.com/set-new-years-resolutions-january/.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 6.46.37 PM

The Devil’s Details: Surgical Drapes

It turns out you learn a lot when someone you know undergoes surgery. Along with the general nausea, blurred vision and pain of recovery, we discovered long red marks on Mrs. Satis’ abdomen. We had absolutely no idea what caused it until we went to see the doctor for our first follow-up consultation. He pondered for a moment, and then declared with quite the “ah-ha” that it was a delayed reaction to the surgical drapes.

54_hartmann_basis_set_ambu_481x355_z1

Did you know they drape the patient’s body entirely during surgery apart from the head and the surgical site (called the “operating field”, according to Wikipedia)? It makes sense when I think back on it – whenever you see surgery on TV there’re gowns and cloths and drapes all over the place. The specific reason for this, however, wasn’t apparent to me until now. During open surgery when the patient is under general anesthetic, the anesthesiologist remains in the operating room throughout the procedure. Another one of those things that makes sense when you think about it. The patient is hooked up to IVs and ventilators and all sorts of stuff, and the anesthesiologist is there to make sure the patient remains unconscious throughout.

The drapes separate the surgeon’s working area from the anesthesiologist’s (and anything else). You see, I’d always assumed that operating rooms were kept pretty sterile as it was, but it turns out not sterile enough: the drapes help to minimize the possibility of contamination during surgery.

It feels obvious, but kind of crazy at the same time; it’s just a further reminder that you are being deliberately wounded – cut wide open – and that you are just as prone to infection during surgery as anywhere else.

~

Featured image from http://healthland.time.com/2010/02/22/which-prostate-surgery-is-best-depends-on-the-surgeon/.

Satis Logo with ©