Normally you might think to yourself, will once bosom coworker, Erpa Snurpa, whom I worked with all those years ago think it’s strange if I call her out of the blue? Or, if I email that nice woman I worked with on that AALL committee 5 years ao, will she be glad to hear from me or just feel obligated to respond? Well, these are not normal times, just do it!! We are all experiencing a once in a lifetime (hopefully!) disruption to our lives, including our work lives. Just like you, many people you once knew are trapped inside much of the day, worrying about the coronavirus, wondering if they might be one of the many people who will eventually succumb to its ravages.
It is certainly not unusual for us as individuals to periodically reflect on our mortality, think about the old days, and remember the many people who have played a role in our lives. When faced with these moods, we are sometimes tempted to reach out to old friends, acquaintances, and maybe even enemies. But often we hold back, fearing that our outreach might be perceived as strange or even intrusive, or reason that they have probably forgotten about us long ago…
However, we have never faced a situation where everybody simultaneously begins to reflect on their own mortality. That would be unusual by itself, but it is even crazier than that! Many of the newly philosophical also suddenly have so much new leisure time to ponder our new philosophizing, our anxieties, and our lives. We have unlimited quarantined hours to struggle through Erikson’s last stage of human development, in which we battle despair, moving from the lifelong anxiety-filled question of “am I okay?” to the reflective “was I okay?”
If the coronavirus gives us permission to text and DM our exes to hash out whether our existence was justified**, it certainly gives us free reign to reconnect with old coworkers, one-time committee co-members, and conference acquaintances, and to strengthen our law-librarian networks! And, of course, the Internet gives us so many communication options to choose from! The Internet is awash in coronavirus testimonials about using the wonders of the Internet to connect with family and friends and advice on using it to battle loneliness and isolation.
So watch out, legions of my old coworkers and librarian friends! Sarah will be in touch soon***…
**Please detail any awkward encounters of this sort in the comments!
***Please consider reassuring her that her life was “okay.”