Questions and Answers: What We’re Asking in the Age of Social Distancing

question mark sign in sand beach
Photo: iStock

When? How? Why?

Our days are filled with questions, perhaps more than at any other time most of us can recall. They come at us from all souls and sources, friends and family and total strangers, in emails and texts and memes and video chats and phone calls. The absurd to the earnest, the silly to the sublime. It’s impossible to count how many I’ve seen and heard in the past week, even, but they are likely similar, in some cases even exact, to ones you’ve heard.

When can I give you a hug again?
Is two weeks enough time?
Are you getting enough Vitamin C?
What are you waiting for? 25% Off Nonstick Cookware!
You aren’t going to the store, are you?
How are you feeling?
Don’t those people on the beach in Florida realize this isn’t a joke?
Tired of what’s in your pantry?
Did you know you can use cardboard toilet paper tubes as toilet paper?
What do you think about when you’re counting to 20?
How’s working from home going?
I wouldn’t go there, would you?
Now you appreciate what teachers go through every day, don’t you?
Do I need to disinfect my groceries after they are delivered?
Can you please explain to your grandmother how to get on Zoom?
Could this still get worse?
Did she really just complain that she couldn’t go get her nails done?
Have you thought about refinancing?
What is so f—ing hard about social distancing?
How long before the frozen cauliflower is restocked?
Want to get together for a virtual happy hour tonight?
Want to get together for a virtual drink this morning?
Did you read this article about Italy?
Why can’t I stop watching the news?
Who’s on with Fallon tonight?
They’re getting a bidet?
When is the last time you shaved?
Wait, you watched all 13 episodes last night?
Do you think I should meditate?
When do you think they’ll have a vaccine?
Did you hear she has it?
Does he?
Is there anything I can do?

The toughest part for everyone is that so often, we have no answers. There aren’t any. Or we simply do not know them. Questions posed by children make this part especially hard. We encourage them to be curious, to be aware of the world around them, while we try to protect them and shelter them from the harm and horrors we see as adults. There is that inevitable moment we must illuminate them, educate them, help guide them into whatever next phase of life awaits with the means to deal with the challenges they will face. We know when that time is right, even when it doesn’t feel at all like the right time.

As I’m writing this, my sister-in-law texts. She was talking to my nephew, who is almost eight and has to be the most positive, glass-is-always-more-than-half-full kid I know.

“I just asked J if he was feeling okay and if he had any questions about what was going on, why he isn’t going back to school, etc. He said, ‘I really just have one question.’

“I braced myself and said, ‘Yes, what is it?’”

“Can I please have a Devil Dog?”

More from Our Sister Sites