thoughts on wrong- and right-relationship during a pandemic

back in early march, as awareness of covid-19 finally made its way into the US, people were encouraged to do what many call “social distancing”. something i realized shortly after was that “social distancing” was a misnomer. as people began to go on lockdown, the number of “how are you doing?” texts and calls skyrocketed.

it was/is a lovely response.

it was/is also totally overwhelming.

i immediately fell behind on responding. i am still behind. at one point i had something like 20+ unresponded “how are you?” texts. at any given moment (including this one), i have between 5 and 15.

i am connector by nature (include by malcolm gladwell’s definition) and so maybe i am connected to more folks than most people. but receiving a deluge of check-in and health update requests i know isn’t unique to me. i’ve talked with at least five friends who are experiencing this, too.

so why do i bring this up? because i have been trying to figure out how to work with and even shift this from overwhelm to positivity. i really do love that so many people are checking in on each other. i also really can’t keep up responding to so many people.

pod mapping worksheet

i have been thinking about the use of pods (albeit in a very different context) as one way to shift this. like, what if my covid pod was six people around me who i keep updated about my physical, emotional, mental, material, and spiritual well-being? and then, if i am feeling out of capacity to do new responses, i direct everyone else to those six people if they want an update.

of course it doesn’t mean i won’t answer some other folks but i wonder if people farther away from me (physically, socially) know that i am well checked-in-on, they won’t worry about me… it also might allow us to make sure everyone has a full pod of people checking in on them. if i’m all set, who isn’t and where might that attention and care be most usefully directed?

ok so those are my personal thoughts on this. that said, i’ve been in convo with lots of folks in my boston community about these dynamics. andrea a. (of one square world) has explored how requests for health info can actually be extractive, luana m. (of hands of gaia reiki & lunation life cycle support) opened up how asking for information can attempt to imitate a closeness that doesn’t exist (i.e. if you have never actually be in a care relationship with me, are you asking now because you are genuinely interested in supporting me? or is something else motivating that ask?). danielle c-c (of infinite growth) has explored the reality that with some folks it doesn’t feel like work to update them; with other folks it does. how does obligation show up in our asks for health updates and what does that mean for who we do and don’t update?

andrea, luana, danielle, this post is open for any edits or words you want to add!

gotta go answer some more check in texts lol…

update: here are responses to this post from andrea and danielle. they are best read in that order.

ps - i am definitely worried about a backlash / pendulum swing in the opposite direction by writing this post. will talking about being overwhelmed by check-in texts/calls make people stop checking in on me (and others)?

pps - i can also already hear the “omg that’s so cold and impersonal. are you just going to ignore or redirect people who want to know how you’re doing?” honestly? i totally would. for me to have to answer every person’s every question is obligation. and maybe it is “rude” but it’s also real (another parallel is email - it’s totally unrealistic that i respond with equal attention to every email that hits my inbox. if i did, i would be doing nothing but email). these feel like the same truths i had to work out with my friend ecosystem. is it weird to categorize my friends by how close they are to me? maybe. but at least it makes things crystal clear.

words / writing / post-processing
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