Designer-writer and committed citizen, the author is president of the governing board of an elementary school. She has also taught literature at the college level and contributes to the journal Lettres québécoises.
That’s it: we can see our loved ones again with less constraints, do “little ones” parties », Return to the office, exchange banalities in face-to-face happy hours. Some would say: “Take it out spraynet, Ginette, you have to dress up for the big world! “Except… some have lost their taste. They are not ready to jump in the bath beforehand with both feet; neither work outside the home nor the social ladder. Faced with the prolonged ban on rubbing shoulders with flesh and blood humans, an adjustment has taken place. We had to learn to be content with the same walls, the same people, to ensure that they are sufficient to maintain a certain idea of well-being. So much so that this idea has sometimes ended up being imposed, our bubble by self-sufficiency, and that the exterior and social relations have become anxiety-provoking.
For others, life has already taken on the appearance of a funfair (gatherings, Heineken, no time to mess around!). Barbecues at one, group refreshments at the other, brunches on the terrace: we deconfine at full steam and, soon, we will also take advantage of the sports halls and restaurants, eager to reconnect with all facets of our life before. For these, COVID-19 will have been only a forced interlude, a parenthesis at the end of which the daily newspaper which resumes is a carbon copy of that of yesteryear, with a mask when necessary.
Between these two extremes, multitudes of cases and at least one certainty: those who are ready to embrace life with their mouths will want to see their loved ones again who fear drowning by plunging back into the world. How can we harmoniously envision this after?
According to a recent Léger poll, 52% of people are anxious to get back “to normal”. The return will therefore require many adjustments, both in the professional and personal sphere, after this pandemic life which has been outlined in shades of gray. People who worked face-to-face led more normal lives, but were more exposed to the virus. Those working from home saved transit time and reduced their risk of exposure (unless they had school-aged children), but many of them were swallowed up by the immediacy of communication platforms.
For many months now, the days of these latter have been subjected to machine time, of which Paul Virilio spoke. A method where instantaneity, even ubiquity triumphs: during a Zoom meeting, not only do emails continue to come in, but the Slack platform (in particular!) And its multiple channels ring without slackening, in a continuous conversation that only stops at night – and again. Akin to an automatic horse race that never ends, these heaps of side meetings and discussions help generate great mental fatigue. Fatigue which is not unrelated to a condition that the New York Times called languor: a feeling of emptiness that gives us the impression of contemplating our stagnant lives through a veiled windshield. Thus, even if a return to a certain normality is allowed, the energy to extricate oneself from this quicksand is present in absent subscribers.
Even though I have been teleworking for ten years, I have very keenly felt the demands of hyperconnectivity leap up during the pandemic… As if the imposed social slowdown had been inversely proportional to the digital acceleration. Thinking about the next world is a great opportunity to listen to our limits – and those of others. A feeling shared by the entrepreneur in artificial intelligence Philippe Beaudoin. “I put my Mac in ‘Do not disturb’ mode from 9 to 5. Yes, yes! I use a feature designed to be undisturbed at night during the day. It’s the only way I’ve found to be able to do deep work – and it works. The world has far fewer emergencies than our apps want us to believe. “
The right to disconnect for which advocates Solidarity Quebec would therefore not be sketched out in just one way, and it seems essential that employers think about the methods of working remotely. More flexibility, more listening, for better retention. Philippe Beaudoin, for his part, is trying to deploy an anti-notification culture in his new company, Waverly, a start-up whose objective is (and this is not unrelated to that) to develop an empathic AI.
And we must not forget that there is the connection that society imposes on us and the connection that we impose on ourselves, in the name of the FOMO syndrome. Now that face-to-face meetings are becoming possible again, we must also think about the social obligations to which we submit. We may wish to spend the Holidays in a small family bubble or that we skip our turn when we are invited to birthdays with many guests … for a long time to come. In any case, it is important to show empathy, to put yourself in the shoes of the other and not to interpret these limits as a disavowal or an affront.
The rhythms of deconfinement will be multiple. None is superior (except in speed) and all are valid. Let’s not try to waltz with one jive dancer, let’s admire the dance of the other, whatever it is. And join us somewhere in the center, on a weird ride where everyone will be fine – when everyone is ready. Because where some are eager to resume their lives, others will have to relearn how to live.