Under pressure we act more socially

Have you noticed that social compassion was way less when autumn came compared to the first wave of infections in spring? I read a research article and couldn’t help but think this (partly) explains why. Apparently people share more when put under pressure. These researchers tested whether kids behave in the same way as adults. They do. Children share more stickers with an absent child (represented by a picture) when put under pressure. When they have time to think, they become more selfish.

During the first wave of covid-19 infections we were all overwhelmed. It was a period when I had a lot of online interaction with family and friends. Talked the neighbours quite often. Hung out in the park, chatting to other parents present. Since October? Hardly anything of that. Of course hanging out in the park became less likely due to weather conditions, but talking to friends and family was reduced to a bare minimum. Sentiment towards new imposed restrictions became more and more negative, generally speaking. I heard more people complaining. Nobody applauds for hospital personnel these days. Posters stating ‘we’ll get through this together’ disappeared.

Now that the immediate pressure for action turned into a long marathon of social distancing people keep more to themselves. At least that’s my observation.

Door |2021-03-17T18:19:27+02:0017 maart 2021|flow|0 Reacties

Covid confessions

On March 13 2020 I went to Utrecht with Daughter, to pay a visit to the Lego store. I then concluded I live on optimal distance from a Lego store. I would like to say that was the last normal day out with Daughter, but to be honest it already felt uncomfortable to take the train and walk around the shopping centre. We were the only visitors in the store. The shopping centre was relatively empty. We went skiing in France in February and I counted the days since our return and mentally marked our group healthy two weeks after returning. My family celebrated my parents’ birthdays on March 8th. We visited a museum and enjoyed high tea in a restaurant, but I seriously wondered whether we should have cancelled it. The stories from Italy were severe. The first Dutch patients were already diagnosed positively for covid-19.

Two days after our Lego store visit, daycare and schools closed. We were told to work from home. As we’ve done since then.

As a family we adjusted. We adjusted to periods where Daughter was allowed back into daycare. We adjusted to the ritual of going to school. We adjusted to Daughter not going to school. We adjusted to Daughter going to school. We adjusted to outdoor life. We adjusted to indoor life. We adjusted to celebrate things online. We adjusted to not eating out. We adjusted to dinners to go. We adjusted to cycling a lot. We adjusted to cycling less. We adjusted to walking a lot. We adjusted to walking less. We adjusted to not being entertained. We adjusted to finishing all exciting Netflix series. We adjusted to wearing face masks. We adjusted to reading more.

The only thing I didn’t need to adjust to was working from home. I’ve done that since the moment I left university more than fifteen years ago and became self-employed.

Barely anything happened last year. Summer was when most interaction with other people took place. Autumn was the slow recline of social gatherings. Winter was for hibernating. Spring is about to begin and viral spread is on the rise again around Europe, despite all the counter measures we’re still taking. We enjoyed a visit to the museum. We enjoyed a few weeks camping in my brother’s back yard. We enjoyed a few dinners and swims at the Man’s sister. We enjoyed a weekend camping with extended family. We enjoyed a few days at my parents’ around new year.

A lot happened last year. Entire testing infrastructures were built from scratch. Apps were developed. The US got rid of mister T with a bit of a stir. The medical community worked their ass of to produce a vaccine. I listened to an interview with which Dutch virologist Jaap Goudsmit and he explained that the mere fact that we already have multiple vaccines being produced on massive scale is a miracle that couldn’t have happened a decade ago. Despite the slow uptake of vaccination in NL (and EU), the bickering about vaccine deliveries and the rows over which country got the better deal, I fully realize that it is a miracle indeed that my father (79) received his first (Pfizer) jab on March 12 2021. Last year we could only hope for cures and vaccines, now we at least have vaccines.

Still, I feel a bit sad that my mental gap year is now officially extended. It will probably be extended until summer holidays. Until then I expect some more adjustments. Just this morning we received a message Daughter’s teacher needed to get tested before coming to school. Luckily, as of this week teachers are allowed to take a speedy test. The teacher got tested before 8AM, 8:50AM we received a message that the teacher was tested negative and by 9:15AM Daughter was in school, 45 minutes later than normal. On the other hand, testing in general is OK, but nothing more than that. Every runny nose is now suspicious and therefore we got Daughter tested twice already. As we didn’t create an official government approved digital identity for her yet, we had to be called back by a call centre employee with the test results. The first time we tested I had to call the call centre myself after two days to hear the result. It shows that the system is still buggy, to say the least. As a result we requested Daughter’s digital ID, which takes a few days to complete.

I can say a lot about how my government is not capable of managing a crisis, but my main mantra this past year was to focus on my own life. I didn’t want to get tangled up in what ifs and other discussions on processes and events beyond my control. That mindset helped me get through this year. Dealing with the reality that’s in front of me today. It also helped me decide to take the plunge and sign up for Techionista Academy. As boring as this (extended) gap year may be, at least I know I come out of it better skilled than I was in March 2020. And vaccinated as well. I couldn’t have dreamed of such an outcome during all those hours I spent in the park, playing with Daughter in Spring 2020.

Door |2021-03-17T16:28:06+02:0017 maart 2021|flow|0 Reacties

Some days have it all

Writing, reading, datacamp homework, client work, walking.

It felt like the first normal day at the office in 2021. March 2nd probably WAS the first normal day at the office this year.


Door |2021-03-02T20:42:35+02:002 maart 2021|deze dag|0 Reacties

Covid confessions

Last Friday Daughter woke up with a fever. The new guidelines for younger children is to get them tested when showing covid signs. I called to make an appointment and early Friday afternoon the Man took her to the test centre. A smooth and speedy process. The test location (the very interesting venue called De Rijtuigenloods) now serves as vaccination centre as well and therefore they made some changes in procedure since I went there. You no longer drive-through, but park your car and walk inside. As I got tested before, I prepared Daughter what to expect. People wearing a lot of protective gear. The swabbing that can feel very awkward. The location it would take place. The Man told me she showed some nerves beforehand, but the test was done swiftly and skilfully. She got rewarded with a box of new pencils and on top of that saw a train inside the building. “I didn’t even have to cry,” she said to me. Brave little girl.

I expected the test results would come in quickly as well. They’ve been in business for a year now, so basically everything should run smoothly. I was wrong to expect that. Daughter has no digital ID to log into governmental services yet so we had to wait for a call centre employee to call us with the results. Sunday afternoon they still hadn’t called, despite the promise to have test results within 48 hours. I called and after a few attempts (because I called half an hour too early the first time, which technically was still within 48 hours and therefore there might be a (slight) chance that I would receive a call during that half hour) I had someone on the line who was allowed to read the test results. Negative. That was a relief. Daughter went off to the park immediately and was allowed to attend school today.

Talking about school. The whole going back to school in February was and wasn’t a blessing. Due to a snow storm she missed the very first day in school in 2021. The school decided Sunday night that they wouldn’t find it safe for teachers to travel to school. In our region snowmageddon didn’t really happen, so school’s decision was an overreaction to the situation. The rest of that week, Daughter sled to and from school, as there was no snow free route to bike to school. That took extra time out of our regained working hours, since it is a twenty-five minutes walk to school while pulling a four year old on a sleigh.

Then we had the most wonderful weekend skating on ice.

And then rain came to cover the streets in ice and therefore we had another school free Monday. This time the right decision. Even if school would be open, we couldn’t have made it in the morning as all the side walks and streets between our home and school were bone breaking slippery. Only four regular school days remained before the holidays. Yet another week where working hours cut in half.

Today is Daughter’s ninth day in school in 2021. I really hope we can have some uninterrupted normal school weeks this March. I really need some sort of steady rhythm to keep up with my course work, serve my current client and create a new episode for my podcast. Though I wouldn’t be surprised to receive a message that a kid in Daughter’s class is diagnosed with covid-19, which leads to quarantine measures for the whole class. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.

Door |2021-03-01T12:56:43+02:001 maart 2021|flow|0 Reacties

Zoom fatigue explained

Here’s an interesting article trying to make an informed guess as to why videoconferencing all day long is so exhausting. The author suggests some reasons:

  • being stared at for hours at a time at close range: the faces on your computer screen are within the 60 cm ‘intimate’ space, normally reserved for loved ones and family members, and you’re literally being stared at like giving a speech on a stage.
  • overload on sending and receiving non-verbal cues: communicating non-verbally takes more effort, like nodding longer.
  • constantly looking in the mirror: standard setting in many video call software is that you see your own video stream, amongst those of the other participants. Your looking in the mirror and previous research has shown that can cause self-evaluation and negative affect.
  • video call convention requires sitting still: in order to be visible to the others, centred in your video stream, you are moving less than in other settings. Think about all the things you normally do when calling someone using audio only.

Even though more thorough research needs to be conducted all of the above sounds very plausible to me. So next time someone sends you a zoom (or teams) link, suggest doing a traditional audio call and take a walk outside instead. And when meeting with a group, agree on a new convention that it’s alright to step out of view in you office, not face your screen, or switch off your camera entirely.

Door |2021-02-28T15:29:25+02:0028 februari 2021|flow, links|1 Reactie
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