If you want me prognosticate what's going to happen with our society...

painting of people waiting in line at a physical distance with a bus in the background
Painting by Carolyn Olson

If you want me prognosticate what's going to happen with our society. I grew up in an age where we only had two television stations in Duluth and there was no such thing as an internet. So anything was a ball, give a kid a ball. He'll play, he'll play, baseball, football, soccer, kickball, Foursquare, volleyball, they'll play... And the little kids played tag, Red Rover, whatever it is, it's all human interaction. 

I look at what's going on now. I have neighbors across the street from me, where they have some small children three and four years old, and they will walk up to about 10 feet away from somebody, and that's it. And [that’s] all of their interaction now. Now, this is their developmental stage of their life. And they're three and four years old. So let's say somebody three through seven. They're human interaction now is going to be on a screen, which for me is okay once in a while, but I wouldn't want my entire life this way.  They're growing up this way. So this is what they're going to know, and if it only lasts a few months. Things will get back to more normal human interaction. But if this continues on for and it could for years, it will become part of their psyche that this is sort of the normal way of the way things are. And as they get older, and enter the job force, they're going to expect jobs to be that way. And then as they move up, and get older yet, and get some seniority, they will manage their companies that way... 

If this thing passes rather quickly, things might go back to the way they were. And then video conferencing and the other stuff I talked about could still happen, but it would be an adjunct as compared to what might turn into primary if this doesn't get solved.

I was going to have a couple of barbecues in my backyard this year. One for all the neighbors on my block, we're kind of a close knit neighborhood. I live on a two block dead end. And I think there's eight homes, we all know one another. I think there's one new family that's moved in, and we haven't met. And told everybody hamburgers and the wieners are on me, we'll have a nice grill out in the backyard. 

My neighbor next door went on vacation here a couple of years ago in the wintertime, forgot to close his garage door, and it was snowing, just pull over and do it. If an alarm goes off it's just me, no problem.

So, that is gone. I was going to have another barbecue just because I'm getting older. Just for some older friends of mine to find me. It might be the last opportunity really at age 62 for a number of us to get together from across the country. My friend from Portland was going to come to Wisconsin [to] visit his family. My best friend in the Twin Cities was going to come up and so we're all going to get together at my house, have a barbecue, maybe some of them stay here with us. That's not going to happen now. 

My social life -- there's no doubt that it's down, we miss it, but… 

Phil Sher




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