Havi Carel, Matthew Ratcliffe, Tom Froese
One of our children, age 7 years, was asked if he wanted to talk to his friends online. “No!” he replied angrily, “what’s the point if I can’t touch them!?” While his exasperation may not be shared by all of us, it concerns something basic to human life: embodied interaction with other people. Many aspects of our lives that were once taken for granted have been profoundly altered by lockdowns and social distancing measures that are part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Things as simple as hugging a friend, talking face-to-face, socialising freely, and travelling have been restricted in many countries. Even as social distancing measures are slowly relaxed, hesitation and anxiety remain. The situation has had a profound effect on our social relations. How might we better understand how people have experienced this seismic shift?