Recently I began thinking about all the things I have been doing for years and people thought I was strange. Social distancing and all the things you should do to help keep the vulnerable population safe is trending. But what does that look like for a person who was already socially isolated?
At home, I am alone and don’t really have any friends to speak of. Yea I have acquaintances; people I talk to now and again, but nothing beyond the occasional social nicety. And lets face it most people I know only contact me when they need my help with something. So social distancing….check. I was way ahead of the times on this one.
At work, I have been teaching software to adults for several years, and traveling for much of that time. I have always carried hand sanitizer and wipes in my purse/backpack. You never know when a public restroom is going to be gross. About 3 years ago my co teacher and I show up to a class environment and things were so dirty. So I pulled out my wipes and began cleaning. My coworker says “so you are that person” in a very condescending tone of voice. Flash forward, now everyone is buying wipes like crazy and stores cannot keep them in stock. If we cannot social distance, we must at least compulsively clean surfaces. Check, ahead of the times on that one too.
I have 3 college degrees, all of which I earned online and I continue to use online learning platforms. Being around a lot of people is just hard for me and I get enough of that at work, ironically, teaching in person classes. When work is over, I don’t want to go out and be with more large groups of people. Ten or less people has always been my comfort zone. Therefore, online classes are ideal. A large portion of schools are closed and people are trying to figure out how to complete their education. I hear there is a rise in online platforms, even from traditional colleges. Adapt and overcome.
Many people have mocked my online education as being “bought” and just assumed that I did not actually have to do work or learn. These same people are beginning to understand just how hard an online education can be. Yea some people will skate by but that happens in tradition colleges too…just saying. But despite the naysayers, I learned a lot online and feel my education is value added. Yep, ahead of the curve on that one too.
Gaming, I love my online game. All the fun, none of the stress of being in a room full of people. I have been playing World of Warcraft for about 15 years. In that time I have become acquainted with some great people. We log in, complete in game content together, and even chat over the favorite VIOP platform of the time. The preferred platform changes but the concept holds. Today I read an article that online gaming has exploded in the last couple months as people try to find ways to entertain themselves and find a way to feel socially connected. Gaming for the win. Yet another thing I have been doing for years. All of the sudden I am not so strange.
My job requires me to teach classes and help people with software issues. If you need help with some aspect of your job contact the training team; that would be me and two other people for a rather large organization. So I spend my whole day interacting with people on a professional level. Now that has to happen in a telework paradigm. Tomorrow I teach my first virtual class for this employer. I learned the preferred software and am ready to roll. The students, however, are at various levels of ready. For people who feel more comfortable with in person learning and interactions, this virtual class idea is hard to get used to.
It almost feels like my whole life has been a trial run for the current situation. I prefer to interact with people at a distance or if in person, small groups please. Using hand sanitizer and wipes to clean things in my environment has been a long standing habit. I embraced online learning even when it was not cool and only quasi legitimate. Finally, I have been using online games to be entertained for years. In many aspects the things I do that people think are strange is what provides me a sense of normalcy during this stressful time.