What does ‘social’ mean to you? The dictionary definition of ‘Social’ (as an adjective) is as follows:
‘Needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities.’
That sounds very idyllic, doesn’t it? It conjures up images of a quaint little village with a tiny post office that doubles up as a tea room, a rustic pub, and a mock Tudor shop that sells artisan cheeses. A place where everybody knows everybody else by their first name and nothing is too much trouble.
But what would happen to that idyllic social way of life if say, oh, I don’t know, a global pandemic came rolling into town? What if ‘social’ became ‘social distancing’? What would become of this Postman Pat-esque existence then?
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES
What happened was, the definition didn’t change but the way in which we interacted with each other did. The days of nipping to the pub for a swift half, shaking hands, and taking the kids to birthday parties was replaced by endless daytime television, bulk-buying toilet roll, and defending our newly-enlarged personal space of two meters with the vigour of a caged tiger. It was more a case of circling the wagons than living in harmony.
It was the same story in business. People got scared of the unknown and panicked. Redundancies were being handed out like sweets, an everyone-for-themselves attitude took hold, and established relationships were severely strained.
That was how things were initially, and if things had carried on that way then irreparable damage could have been done to our concept of normal relationships. But as the definition of ‘social’ implies, community spirit began to thrive quickly…
IT’S TIMES LIKE THESE YOU LEARN TO LIVE AGAIN
Enforced lockdown also led to innovation. We improvised and made the best out of a bad situation. We held virtual dates on WhatsApp; conducted business meetings over Skype; played pub quizzes on YouTube; created stupid videos and endless memes on TikTok and challenged each other to share embarrassing photos and favourite album lists on Facebook. We took to the streets to clap for our key workers and we rallied around a 99-year old man who wanted to donate money to the NHS as a thank you for saving his life. Physical contact is so important to who we are, but we adapted to not being able to do this and learned a trick or two.
When we look at it, the word ‘social’ was and is so prevalent in all our lives. Social media; the Social Club; your social circle. It’s such an integral part of who we are as a society and it’s shocking how much we took it for granted. We had to have it taken from us as we knew it to realise how important it was.
LEAN ON ME (METAPHORICALLY FOR THE TIME BEING)
Companionship and community are more than your blood relatives or your partner. It’s your extended families; your friends, your colleagues, your client and customer networks – the people you spend all your time with. So, if and when things get back to normal, don’t make the mistake of forgetting the lessons we’ve learned. Problems can be overcome, adaption to the unknown is not only possible but liberating, and true community spirit is what keeps the social and business wheels turning.
The dictionary definition of ‘social’ is true whether physical contact takes place or not. All we have to do is uphold its value.