Dennis Hinkamp

Dennis Hinkamp

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This is the last thing I’m going to write about the recent freedom to free-range protests. “Stop whining about not being able to get a haircut. My generation protested tirelessly for the right to avoid them. Now most of us have little hair left to defend. So, shut up and count your follicle blessings.”

Despite the social-distancing mantra, I find myself wishing for a little more distance. I have so many people who I have never met who are now “here for me,” I may need to build an addition to our house to accommodate them. “Thanks for letting me know Verizon,” I imagine saying. “Would you like to come over and weed the garden for a couple hours?

“And Xfinity, could you send someone over to clean out the garage and manage yard sale while I watch some more of your movies? Oh, that’s not what you meant?”

I know that being “here for you” is more rhetorical than sincere. Likewise, “thoughts and prayers” are for people who can’t commit to a theology. It all reminds me of my parents’ funerals when people would come up and say, “If there is anything I can do …” and then quickly walked away before I could give them a detailed list.

That said, I mostly believe we are all doing our best. I’ve come close to snapping a few times because it just seems like the volume is ramping up like a spring runoff of online activity. There is the volume (amount) and volume (loudness) of the added electronic communications squawking in ALL CAPS like hungry chicks in a robin’s nest.

Before Corona (BC) I was just fine deleting and ignoring a lot mentally taxing clutter. However, AC the volume seems to be more triggering. So, my version of spring cleaning is to unsubscribe to about 20 mailing lists, intentionally miss non-essential Zoom meetings and snooze, hide or block some one-note people on social media. You may feel the same about me. We will meet virtually again when things are different.

I hope this electronic pruning of my virtual vineyard will carry over into whatever our ensuing real life becomes. You don’t have to banish people; you can just hide from them for designated periods of time. You don’t have to get back to everyone who asks you to.

As many others have observed, social distancing is just a passive way of saying physical distancing. It bothers me as a word-person, but I think we are stuck with social distancing because physical distancing just sounds too sad. Social distancing sounds sort of inconsequential like eating at the jocks or nerds’ tables in the high school cafeteria. It’s physical, not social, distancing that will stop the spread of COVID-19.

Though it gives little comfort, we are all learning from this uniquely trying period of history. We will learn that that there are things we really miss and others that we really could do without. These times will be our over-the-top COVID-19 depression story moments. “I didn’t cut my hair because I was a patriot. I got chickens for the backyard for no good reason. I planted 12 rows of toilet paper and they still have not sprouted,” we’ll recite to the next generation.

It’s not all bad. We learn things. You can wear cargo shorts and crocks to work without being mocked to the degree you should be. Wearing them in public could aid social distancing. Extroverts can be just as obnoxious online as in person. For something called Zoom, these meetings can seem to last an eternity. Plants and animals have fought their own virus battles and will be just fine without us.

Dennis Hinkamp would like to give a shoutout to fellow columnist Thad Box, who turned 91 last week.

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