“Tiled” connections – is it possible to stay close while being online?

Padre RosinskiChaplain’s Corner

Padre Marcin Rosinski

The pandemic, working from home and compliance with various restrictions forced many changes in our daily functioning, also in the social area. Initially completely, and now partially, our relationships have moved to monitors and visible “tiles”, which appear in various online social messengers. What do “tiled” bonds look like?

Real Relationships.

The external crisis has put us in a state of pervasive sense of danger. In addition, it also took away the possibility of the most effective way of dealing with the fear that arises in us, which is the experience of close contact with another human being. In turn, isolation and loneliness can heighten our fears. In addition, the commands to avoid all meetings with people can unknowingly lead us or reassure us that the other person is not only threatening us in terms of infection with the virus. Our psyche often does not differentiate and we could become convinced during the quarantine that the world and other people are dangerous and hostile.

In such a situation, the possibility of a close, sincere meeting with other people, especially in a group where support and understanding can be found, may become of special importance. So the question arises whether it is possible to establish “real” relationships on the Internet?
My observations show that online meetings bring many social benefits and respond to the need for close contact with others. Moreover, on the one hand, such a “tiled” form of relationship may be an undoubted loss of direct contact with a human being, but on the other hand, it may be a profit, as it to some extent facilitates communication with others, especially people who usually experience various types of anxiety in social contacts with people.

The screen can become a kind of protection, a tangible boundary that allows for greater openness and spontaneity. In addition, we can experience less unpleasant feelings in online contact, such as shame or embarrassment, which may hinder or even paralyze our social life. Due to the option to exit a given social relationship immediately, we may feel less panicky.

Common experiences connect.

Openness can also be fostered by the fact that as a society we experience something common, one can say equal for all of us. Regardless of who we are, each of us can get infected. The restrictions also apply to all of us. So, despite the difficult moment in life, we can discover as a society a certain sense of unity and solidarity that can be tangibly experienced during a conversation in a “tiled circle”.

It can be seen that in recent times many of us have gained more free time due to the reduction of responsibilities and mobility. It was a chance to stop, reflect on life and reformulate values. The quarantine could have given us an impulse to be more grateful and humble towards what we have, and what seemed obvious and guaranteed so far. The “tiled” space enabling the exchange of experiences can make us aware of it and bring it all closer.

Online meetings can be even more significant in the context of the ubiquitous experience of various types of losses, which can trigger depressive feelings of sadness, regret, helplessness or anger in us. We need meeting other people to be able to name and share these difficult feelings with another person who, although visible only in the “tile”, will react vividly, with empathy and readiness to help and support.

marcin.rosinski@forces.gc.ca