Humans are social creatures. All sorts of research has been done as to the perfect number of friends, around community building and maintenance, and on the importance of socialization. Having people around and interacting with them is scientifically proven to be important for our brains. And in this, one of the toughest and strangest years we’ve collectively gone through, we are being forced to distance. I am not a snuggler in general, but I definitely need to have my peeps within grabbing distance most of the time.
I also need new people. It’s not that I get bored with my friends – never, I keep them around FOREVER, just ask my kindergarten bestie – It’s just that I get a lot of joy out of learning all about how someone different sees and experiences the world, how they approach new and interesting things, and in introducing them to the stuff that I find positively captivating. People skills are skills, they need to be honed and exercised and I for one refuse to let mine wane just because we’re in a pandemic. Admittedly though, it’s looking different than the good old ‘in your face’ days.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my husband’s D&D friend and how she’s dipped her toe (full-on right leg) into the ocean of Kpop content. For those of us that got into Kpop alone and in the early days of access, we had the challenge of no one to talk to and extremely limited resources. Heck, this stuff was exactly the reason Stephanie started the blog. It was lonely and challenging, but I honestly don’t know if it was any worse than what new fans face today. There is SO MUCH out there and there are so many groups, concepts, and releases that it’s nearly impossible to navigate without an experienced friend to two or nudge you in certain directions. So this past weekend, in the name of keeping myself from going completely feral and in the hopes that I might introduce two cool potential friends, I had a play date. I had a safe as possible backyard playdate with drinks and piles of Kpop albums to page through and a laptop to show MVs on. Stephanie, Tinkerfrost (her completely awesome cosplay name), and I snacked on popcorn and showed off some of our favorite idols and groups in order to feed our souls and soothe our personal anxieties about the state of the world. I think we all fretted a little about making sure we weren’t being awkward or overwhelming with our love of this obsessive musical road we’ve all decided to venture down, but ultimately I am pretty much 102% sure that it was an all-around fantastic time. It was rejuvenating.
There was soju after all.
We are so lucky that things have moved to a place where these, albeit not perfect, interactions are allowed – that the risk of sickness and the severity of the illness is such that seeing someone face to face but six feet apart is possible. In the early months of this pandemic, we weren’t so sure. Many of us squirreled away into our houses and apartments and rarely saw the light of day or spoke to another soul outside of work zoom meetings and text messages. But as the weeks crept on, we remembered that zoom works just as well after hours and we could, in fact, see each other’s faces as we had a drink. That we could watch content together through streaming sites or talk on the phone to hear each other’s voices. The Friday night group even grew a little for a while as we included friends from across the country. If none of the locals were in person, then it didn’t matter what time zone any of us were in. We virtually crept out of hidey holes and realized that we were all still in this together.
When Paoloalto, Jerd, Reddy, and Soovi put out the song and MV for Kid Rock this month it was just another reminder that this is absolutely a global experience. We are all figuring out what it means to be alone with ourselves and discovering different avenues to share time together. We are deciding what makes us happy in our living spaces and how we feel most comfortable at home for long chunks of time, but we are also figuring out how we can share a can of beer with a loved one and not risk their health and safety or our own.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a suburban mom working on the front lines of a public health crisis – one of many public health crises impacting our world – or a Korean rapper trying to figure out how to make a living when you can’t hold concerts or promote your work through traditional means. We all still need the support of our chosen family. And a stiff drink.
Kid Rock, Paloalto, Jerd, Reddy, & Soovi