We are more and we are less. This is the strange conundrum of our lives today.
We are more isolated than ever before. Nearly half of the planet is in lockdown and freedom of movement is severely restricted. The things we took for granted have been taken away. We know it’s for our own good and the logic is sound and yet we still battle with our emotions. We’ve been sent to our room, like children punished for a misdemeanour that is not entirely clear.
So we are more isolated than ever before. But we are also more connected. Rolling news reveals the deadly developments in real time — we watch the black spider’s line crawling up the graph each day — 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 500,000, two million people infected. Our phones vibrate with questions from friends, family and colleagues. “How are you? Do you have food? Are you sick yet?” We are in touch throughout the day and the night. It has never been easier to communicate.
Yesterday I finished my 82nd Spoon by Spoon interview talking to people going through life and career transitions. Over the last few days I have spoken to Dhaval from India, Roxanne in San Diego, Jon from Hong Kong and Kira in Toronto. The week before I had stopovers in Norway, Greece, Brazil, France and Australia. In one day I leapt from the west to the east, from eight in the morning to nine at night. It was exciting and invigorating. I found it barely believable that just a click of a button could transport me around the globe. And I didn’t leave my seat.
I felt like the narrator in Xavier de Maistre’s “A Journey Around My Room.” Written in the 1790s, the character locks himself away for six weeks, setting out to study his apartment. He takes us on a “voyage” from his sofa, to the armchair, to his bed. He is filled with wonder and delight, as though travelling through strange lands. And yet he remains in one place.
When I called Roxanne in San Diego I got through instantly as the signal was sent at the speed of light — 186,300 miles per second. The physics tells us that I would get through to Roxanne in California before I could hear my neighbour across the street. Remarkable. It’s only 144 years since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. He would be astounded at how easily we can now connect.