Self-quarantine Has Leveled the Social Playing Field

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by Hawken Miller |

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I’ve always sought silver linings, including in this season of social distancing. Many people now exclusively use technology to communicate with family, friends, and co-workers to reduce viral spread. Instead of hanging out at inaccessible places, people connect from the comfort of home. Self-quarantine has yielded plenty of valid complaints, but for many with physical disabilities, it’s made social life easier.

For example, using a powerchair can complicate social interaction. It’s bulky, it’s never at the right eye level, and it’s a broken toe waiting to happen. When I look at someone through a screen, those problems don’t exist. Video-chatting reduces outside variables that detract from conversation. Also, for those who don’t have a wheelchair-accessible vehicle like me, the move toward online interaction cuts hours of travel time and hassle. While quarantined at home, there’s no fear of falling into unfamiliar terrain or getting stuck in a 400-pound power chair. Everything we need is at our fingertips. Instead of traveling by road, we travel by fiber optic cable.

My desk set-up at home. (Photo by Paul Miller)

I haven’t gone anywhere by car in over two weeks. The last time I saw my friends in person was three weeks ago. Social distancing has leveled the playing field in the sense that everyone is in the same situation. FaceTime, Zoom, and video games fade the boundaries I face in the real world. I no longer feel left out.

Before self-quarantine, I couldn’t participate in social activities that revolved around physical activity. Now, though, my friends and I have transitioned all interactions to gaming. We created a “Minecraft” server so our virtual avatars can quest through pixelated blocks while we chat, and we’ve upped the frequency of our “League of Legends” matches. None of my physical challenges complicate things there — we are all on an even “playing field.”

Out on a family walk with the dogs. (Photo by Paul Miller)

Isolation has improved not only my social life with friends, but also my relationship with my family. Isolating with my parents isn’t hard since I’ve always lived with them anyway. Instead our relationship is boosted by this ordeal: We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be together and enjoy each other’s company without errands driving us from the house. We’ve gone on long walks, watched our favorite television shows, and had meals together.

Of course, I’m not advocating for social distancing to endure forever. I desire for people to continue with the physical activities they love. But the reality is we are dealing with a global pandemic. The longer we can wait in shelter, the lower the death rate, so let’s make the best of our isolation.


Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.


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