Will this be our new norm for greeting one another? 

For a while now, I’ve bemoaned the way that electronic communication seemed to be replacing real human interactions. I’ve seen it for example with my own kids, who are far too likely to try to handle disagreements with friends via text instead of picking up the phone to speak, or better yet, meet up to have a face-to-face conversation. I’ve noticed that I’m becoming “unusual” in that I actually like to converse with people in line with me instead of peering into my phone to pass the time.

In this new era of social distancing, I’m quite grateful for the ability to stay connected with friends and family via phone, email, text and more … because unfortunately that face-to-face option isn’t available now.

But it got me to wondering. What will the new normal look like when we manage to conquer the coronavirus pandemic?

Will this forced time of isolation make us more appreciative or more fearful of real human contact and connection? Is a firm handshake a thing of the past? Will those of us self-proclaimed “huggers” need to tie our arms behind our backs? Will working from home … which I already was doing … replace office settings in more radical numbers, creating a society of individuals holed up inside their residential cocoons day and night? Will meetings and conferences forever be replaced with Zoom?

I hope not. I miss getting together with friends at a local eatery to enjoy a meal and conversation. Pick-up is convenient, but it’s certainly not the same experience. I miss gathering with the women in my bible studies who support and inspire me. Working out in my basement may replace my “splat” points, but it doesn’t feed my spirit the way my gym friends and coaches do. Fine, I guess I can give up the “high five.”

I really miss going to church to worship together; my card club, which has been playing for more than 30 years together; my wine tasting group; my book club. My hope is that this forced isolation will inspire all of us to treasure more deeply the blessings of human interaction.

Yes, I think handwashing and mindfulness will need to be part of our ongoing strategy. And perhaps a friendly nod can replace a handshake. But I look forward to the time when I can hug my Dad again, with love, not fear.