The title might seem rather odd to those who know me in real life. After all, I’m a compulsive hugger, I crave human touch, at Crazy Camps most of the group games we play are rather physical, I love spooning, eye gazing, I practice Shibari, etc. In pre-corona times physical connection kind of defined me. And don’t get me wrong, I am eager to get back to immersing in physical connection with my fellow Humans. Nevertheless there are some aspects of physical distancing (here in The Netherlands we started calling it ‘the 1,5 meter society’) that I absolutely adore. And they make that I am patiently accepting that the Times of Touch did not yet return.
What I love about Social Distancing: 1. Hedonism on Hold
Hedonism, according to Wikipedia, is “a school of thought that argues seeking pleasure and avoiding suffering are the only components of well-being.” I am inclined to think that hedonism became the religion of most people in the western world. We feel entitled to pleasure and therefore feel devastated when our summer festivals are cancelled, when we can’t get wasted in our favourite bar anymore, when we can’t enjoy a delicious dish with exotic ingredients in a fancy restaurant. We got used to traveling often and far – a day at the beach was a treat for my parents some decades ago; now only flying to Burning Man, a yoga retreat in Bali or a psytrance festival in Latin America gets us excited. What do all these things have in common? That they are devastating for the environment. And that brings me to the next point.
2. A Break for Nature
Shops became like scenes from a post-apocalyptic movie with the one-way aisles, queues of people waiting to be allowed entrance, transparent screens around the cashiers. Shopping is no fun anymore and suddenly we are only buying what we actually need – and our economy collapses. And many people lost (part of) their income so less shopping for that reason as well. As bad as this may be for every individual that might loose (part of) their income (and that includes myself), it is a blessing for the environment. Most of the things that we don’t actually need are produced in Asia in environment-hostile ways and transported to us in environment-hostile ways. And cynically, after buying all that stuff we don’t need, we export our garbage to other countries because we like it when others solve our problems (something to do with the “avoiding suffering” element of hedonism maybe?). The Netherlands for example in 2018 exported almost 11 billion kilo of garbage… Let’s read that again, 11.000.000.000 kilo of garbage! “If I can’t see the problem with my eyes, then the problem does not exist”. But let’s not deviate. Now in times of social distancing we buy less crap and thus we produce less garbage. I love it!
3. Learn about others’ reality
We, westerners, get to be a tiny bit less privileged. We complain that our freedoms are taken from us. Freedom to do as we like. Freedom to travel. Freedom to consume. Parts of our political freedom even. But those are all freedoms that big parts of the world population never had! Be it formally or practically. If you live in poverty and struggle to stay alive, you simply don’t have the freedom to do as you like or to travel – even if there is no law against it. And that is the reality for millions and millions of Humans on this planet, regardless of Covid-19 situations. And many people live in (civil) war situations with years and years of curfews, or in dictatorships with many restrictions – in some cases since decades. So the “1,5 meter society” gives us a glimpse of the daily life that big parts of the world population were leading already before Corona. And I love it because I hope it will stimulate our empathy and will make us more aware of why it would be a good thing that we would care about creating a better world for all, instead of caring about the cancellation of our summer festivals.
4. Community Matters
Very much related with the Hedonism theme, for the first time since long we, individualised westerners, get to give up some individual perks for the benefit of the whole. Yes we always bring some individual ‘sacrifice’ for society (eg. by paying taxes) but so far those ‘sacrifices’ have not hindered our hedonist life styles. And now, for the first time since at least decades, there is something that makes us aware that the well-being of the individual is not a higher good than the well-being of Humanity as a whole. I love it!
5. Empty Handed Gropers
If your body has boobs and a feminine ass, then you know what I’m talking about. Rush hour in the bus or metro, and you have to submit yourself to strangers’ hands going to places where you did not invite them, and male bodies leaning against you with more contact than necesairy. Social distancing in public transport and other crowded places makes this world a safer place for half of the population. Men will find this hard to understand because even though most of them don’t grope – almost none of them is victim of this kind of harassment, and almost all gropers are men.
So this is, loveable people, why I am so patiently waiting for the moment that we can hug!