Technology makes isolation more bearable than before

Some people already are starting to go stir-crazy under the restrictions being imposed on public activity — and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. As several cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the Rio Grande Valley over the weekend, officials are adding new measures including curfews and more building closures. Some are considering daily restrictions in addition to nighttime curfews they’ve already imposed.

Daytime restrictions might prompt new feelings of panic among those who are spending much of their day going from store to store looking for toilet paper, eggs and other staples.

Luckily, the inconveniences will be temporary for most of us. And remember that they could be worse. Like just about every other situation, we can find good among the bad.

People in shopping lines generally have been patient. Despite their disappointment at finding shelves empty, most people seem to recognize that the stores, their employees and suppliers aren’t to blame for the panic buying that has caused the shortages. The coronavirus outbreak, and the hoarding that has followed, took us all by surprise, and it takes time for manufacturers to ramp up production to meet the sudden increased demand.

In fact, we should do more than simply tolerate the shortages; harried store stockers and others surely would welcome a thank-you or other kind word for the extraordinary conditions in which they find themselves.

Many businesses also have come forward to help. Restaurants and other businesses that have been closed or lost business have utilized their suppliers and become temporary outlets for eggs, paper towels and other items that sell out at grocery stores. Yes, they benefit from the sales, but their customers benefit also by having a new source for things that are running out elsewhere, and they deserve our thanks.

Moreover, our isolation isn’t as absolute as it might have been just 20 years ago, when smartphones were more a luxury than a common tool. Today our camera phones and computers enable us to enjoy some time with friends and family, even if we can’t be in the same room.

Streaming video applications for those devices also enable us to catch up on programs we’ve always wanted to see. We can call up favorite music videos, check out a program that others have recommended or bingewatch that series that has been on our to-do list for awhile.

It goes without saying, of course, that such entertainment should not be our primary activity as we’re confined to home. We can get to those home repairs or projects that have simmered on the back burner for far too long, and take advantage of the additional time we can spend with our families. Many people already have posted comments on their social media pages expressing surprise at how much their child has learned at school, or remembering how much they enjoyed being together with their families.

So instead of panicking we can enjoy being at home, perhaps saving money by not dining out as much, and getting to know each other better.

And know that once this is over, we’ll also have a new appreciation for the simple joys of fully stocked store shelves and for simply being able to meet friends at the local eatery.