The unseen side of C19. This article is written with NSW, Australia in mind, but regardless....Applies ALL OVER THE WORLD
Good morning reader,
The question to the Q+A panel was simple and plaintive.
"How come," asked our viewer, "the person I may have been sleeping with for just a few months can come over and stay with me in lockdown, but my dearest friend of 14 years can't?"
Why, our questioner wondered, is an intimacy bubble defined only in terms of sex – new, cheap or otherwise – and not for what it really is: much-needed deep, human connection?
Or, put another way — doesn't anyone understand how lonely lockdown is for someone on their own?
The NSW lockdown allows for an intimate partner to visit but doesn't create the "social" bubble that was belatedly introduced in Melbourne during its extended second wave lockdown of 2020.
Not sure what the difference is? Let Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews explain that to you
The life of a single person in Australia can be a tough one. No campaigning prime minister or wannabe prime minister ever mentions you. There are working families, and hard-working tradies; deserving self-funded retirees, struggling pensioners: but never any mention of the unattached and reproductively unforthcoming individual Australian tax-payer.
You don't count. Well, you do really – you represent 10 per cent of all Australian households. You earn, spend and pay tax like everyone else, often with a higher percentage of disposable income particularly in younger groups, as income and consumption decline with age.
But more importantly than any of this – you're a member of the Australian community too and you often seem so disregarded that your membership must often feel highly conditional.
And if you're young and single you're way down the vaccination priority list
– a decision perceived as both insulting and insensible.
So, the missing social bubble of the NSW lockdown feels to many like they've simply been forgotten.
The social and psychological toll of lockdowns has not yet been paid.
The bill continues to mount, to the extent that it is near-impossible to make a first appointment with a psychologist in Melbourne and the demands on services such as those of HeadSpace and Beyond Blue have gone beyond anything they've seen before. The level of distress they are seeing now is incredibly high.
Lockdown is lonely enough, but so much harder without the touch or the fellowship of another human being. As former AMA head, Mukesh Haikerwal said on Q+A Thursday night, that loneliness has major health consequences too.
At the start of my radio show on Friday, the first day of lockdown 5.0 in Victoria, Tim texted me. He was in despair, he said. He lived alone on a disability pension and could not get out of bed at the news of another lockdown. All he could do was cry.
We called him and made sure he was OK. Then so many listeners texted and kept doing so all morning, concerned that he get the support and human connection he needed. They offered to make calls to him or walk by and say hello if he was in their 5km loop.
So, bugger the official bubble. What people have shown again and again through this pandemic is their huge heart; their empathy and compassion for each other in ways just like this.
The fine print might not define the bubble, but no-one can stop you reaching out in other ways, making the connection and taking the time to take care of one another.
Make your joy and your concord however you can, within the limits of allowance, and keep each other in mind.
This weekend, with all that time on your hands, you can settle in for some great reading. Maani Truu has taken a look at the lives of the single in lockdown
and at the other end of the domestic experience you can read about life in a multi-generation household
… hey, it might just make you feel a little better about being single!