My new best friend is a journalist but we’ve never met in person

Tech really is a phenomenal thing. Thanks to it, a journalist based in Cape Town has now become a dear friend over the last year.

Despite the pandemic, in some ways we are more connected than ever, argues Drew Salisbury
Despite the pandemic, in some ways we are more connected than ever, argues Drew Salisbury

We share a love of literature, current affairs, history and travel, and we have spoken at length about exploring the towering natural wonders of South Africa’s bustling capital city once this global ordeal is over.

But what’s remarkable about our friendship is that we have never met in person – only through a screen.

Humans are naturally sociable beings and, for the majority, we enjoy nothing more than meeting up with others – whether it be in the office with colleagues, for lunch with clients, in a café with friends or at home with family.

The new ‘reality’ of staying apart has been something incredibly alien to so many.

Within the snap of a finger, we suddenly found ourselves alone working remotely from the confines of our living rooms or kitchen tables.

No hustle and bustle of the city, no water cooler chat, no good-natured office banter – just silence.

From my email exchanges and Zoom calls with various people specifically within the business world, it occurred to me how special it is that, in our workdays and environments, our communication is so much more threaded with a supportive empathy and vulnerability.

And I realised how much more connected we have become through the power of technology.

We should take some comfort and optimism from this.

Now more than ever, we are learning the fragility and true preciousness of life. Imagine how even more powerful this will be once we are able to meet in person again.

We’re all dealing with the so-called “new normal”. Each one of us has been affected – directly or indirectly – by the global health crisis. We all need to work together as companies, governments, nations and communities – and, most crucially, as humans – to get through this crisis. Indeed, there is hope on the horizon and we must cherish this new-found sense of human connection.

Despite the challenges, we have found innovative ways to communicate with other people at distance and witnessed an encouraging sense of community. In our efforts to adapt to this unpredictable situation, perhaps we are unknowingly changing the blueprint for the way in which we live our lives in the future. Regardless, all this confirms the truly uplifting power of human connection.

The connections that we have made with clients, colleagues and friends across the world are bigger than the technology that enables them. Even simply popping into a supermarket has become a moment of connection.

Although we wish that there were no pandemic requiring us to search for a silver lining, this is one worth acknowledging. And we must thank each other for being so wonderfully human.

Drew Salisbury is a PR consultant at The PR Office

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