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Surreal is the new real as 'social distancing' reveals our simple need for human contact

Martina Devlin


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All in it together: Families are being forced to spend much more time together as the Covid-19 crisis has  gathered pace. Photo: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

All in it together: Families are being forced to spend much more time together as the Covid-19 crisis has gathered pace. Photo: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

REUTERS

All in it together: Families are being forced to spend much more time together as the Covid-19 crisis has gathered pace. Photo: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

Before the coronavirus pandemic, concerns were raised from time to time about over-reliance on the virtual world. People risked turning into recluses, warned researchers - apps for groceries, takeaway meals, clothing companies, dry-cleaning services and Amazon meant internet users were becoming anti-social.

Convenient though home delivery was, freeing up time for other activities, there were potential consequences for mental health. Those studying the shut-in economy, as it's called, said people were suffering from isolation and depression.

Delivery staff were invisible worker bees as they dropped off and picked up - faceless to users. This method of service could not be compared with the bread vans and milk floats of previous eras, where customers were greeted by name and social exchanges took place.