Tech

What Lockdown Taught Me About The Beauty Of Online Friendship

"There is something special about relationships bred out of total inconvenience."

Image courtesy of the author / Cavan Images/Getty
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While being able to remain at home and having a home to remain in during the coronavirus outbreak is a privilege, it's hard to deny that lockdown has been a challenge. It tore us away from the comforts of everyday life — the joy of sharing a pint with friends or celebrating a birthday with family. Yet for many of us, the experience has also given us the change to pause and reflect, to take stock of what matters most. In What I Learnt In Lockdown, writers share what this period has meant for them and what lessons they'll take away as we all begin to emerge from our COVID-19 cocoons.

Before lockdown, I was a pretty excellent friend collector — in the warmest and least mean way possible. I love people, and my job as a songwriter and touring musician means that I often meet kindred spirits in all parts of the world then form a really tight bond with them in the normally short time that our paths cross. But then I’d get back to London and to my chaotic-good state of living where I bounce around peoples sofa’s and spare beds, and spend most of my time on public transport, and the boring bits of life would interfere with all these friendships and relationships I’d made.

In the first few weeks of lockdown, I suddenly found myself in nearly everyday contact with friends I hadn’t been in the same place as for months, if not a year. A cinematographer from Brisbane that I’d met on an American tour. Songwriters from LA and Nashville. An actor from Jakarta who I’d become best friends with in LA a few summers ago. Another songwriter from Melbourne I'd met at a gig and then gone on a spontaneous friend date with for sushi right before lockdown. These people suddenly became my constant shoulder-to-cry-on, my diary, my new lockdown family. The distance and the difference in our lives felt minimised because we were all living through the same period of uncertainty. Hearing from them all everyday made the world feel a little less big and scary, and a little more like a group of neighbourhoods that were just stretched out a bit further than most.

The distance and the difference in our lives felt minimised because we were all living through the same period of uncertainty.

I discovered the importance and the beauty of forming friendships where you have to actively try and put in real effort to stay close. FaceTiming people means you have to be present, you have to be listening, you have to engage in the conversation. There are no fun nights out you can go on, no trips to coffee shops where you spend half the time looking at your phone, no parties where you say you will catch up soon but start planning all the ways you will avoid doing just this as you’re saying it. FaceTime is a real-time time vortex where you just have to talk and talk and talk and, as someone who has difficulty with being vulnerable and open in person, it created this space where it felt less scary to say scary things. I found myself learning about politics and TikTok fame and the creative community on Australia's Sunshine Coast, and slowly becoming closer and closer to a whole host of people that, were it not for a little twist of fate, I may never have met.

There is something special about relationships bred out of total inconvenience. It’s a unique power we have nowadays, to press some buttons and be face-to-face with someone thousands of miles away. Lockdown really schooled me on the importance of this and the way I'd previously taken it for granted. I’d like to say I’m now a much better friend and communicator, and have realised that there really is no excuse for not reaching out to those you care about. People are the most important thing, and I’m lucky to have so many hilarious, iconic, amazing ones in my corner, scattered across the globe.