In one of my favourite lines of poetry, David Rakoff once said :
“We’re creatures of contact regardless of whether/ we kiss or we wound. Still, we must come together.”
This morning I read another article about how a restauranteur has saved her business by developing a delivery and takeout cocktail service. Similarly, a close friend who owns a wonderful high end bistro in our neighbourhood recently converted to a sports bar in order to attract more takeout and delivery. In fact, he modelled his menu on the top 10 food items people order on UberEats.
I totally get it. In this moment in time, with covid, they have no choice. You simply cannot survive on when you are faced with constant restrictions and lockdowns.
But this is part of a longer term trends. And its not about COVID. Its about people feeling way too comfortable spending more and more time along in their homes.
Even before COVID. We saw the movie theatre in trouble because people were staying home and watching Netflix. Restaurants that emphasized the in person dining experience were struggling, as people preferred a simply meal delivered to them — that they could eat while watching Netflix. Visits to national parks were down, as people stayed at home surfing the internet and playing video games.
And – this may be a stretch – but strip bars were closing, as people stayed home to web cam or watch porn.
We are losing our points of contact with real people. And its really really hurting us. Its widely accepted that social contact is critical to our mental health. As David Rakoff so elegantly said, we are creatures of contact. The context of that poem – a turtle is killed by a scorpion because he agrees to carry him across the river, despite having reservations that the scorpion might sting and kill him — he did. The poem was a wedding toast by a former lover of the bride where he tries to explain why we continue to put ourselves out there and seek love, even though we know we will likely get hurt.
It’s because we are creatures of contact. And we’re in trouble when we don’t get it.