The Pandemic and Interpersonal Boundaries

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Listen to the narrative of a 15-year-old Chinese girl…

Right now, the entire globe is attacked by a new and malicious virus, SARS-CoV-2, whose official name seems nothing more than a series of dull code. But the virus has caused a virulent pandemic and has cruelly reinforced the interpersonal boundaries between us.

As soon as the virus erupted, scientists have been racing with time. They announced a series of safety guidelines, requiring mandatory mask wearing, social distancing of six feet, hand-washing requirement, etc. I appreciate how strictly citizens of my country have followed these guidelines, but at the same time, the intimacy and connection between people have dampened. Social distancing physically separates people, leading to a mental barrier that reinforces interpersonal boundaries. Worse, I am not able to see the smiles on people’s faces any longer due to the masks that cover their noses and mouths. As people’s eyes do not convey emotions so well as their entire faces do, everybody on the street looks solemn, sometimes even hostile. For a thousand times, I simply look away to avoid that strange, incomplete, and awkward stare. The virus has both physically and mentally alienated us.

A man wearing a surgical mask is standing (Image Via Getty Images)

But please, don’t let the invisible walls define who we are. Yes, the virus is here, and the pandemic is raiding. Yet instead of yammering, panicking, and rejecting the people around you, let’s work together to defeat our common enemy. Let’s encourage, support, and develop connections with each other. Currently, as a remote student studying at a U.S. boarding school, I am trying my best to stay connected with my community far away. During classes on Zoom, I unmute myself to actively participate in class. When I encounter problems or difficulties, I email my teachers right away to reach out for help. Without face-to-face interactions, virtual communication can still be done, and I tell myself to be grateful to the Internet and our modern resources.

When staying indoors, be grateful for having more time to spend with your families. When feeling fearful and uncertain, think about the doctors and nurses pacifying the patients and striving for their health, and how there will always be those who support you. When walking on the streets, imagine a smile behind everybody’s face mask, and smile big enough so others realize your friendliness. The pandemic, ideally, should be making you more determined, grateful, and most importantly, resilient. Right here, right now, save our lives by breaking the boundaries between every one of us.

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