Mental Health, Social Distancing, Online Connection and Why We Are Like Plants

Mental Health, Social Distancing, Online Connection and Why We Are Like Plants
May 7, 2020 madchenKliop


Written by David Fitzgerald (TTT Subscriber Mädchenkliop).

Why we are nothing without events

Shhhhhhhh! …. don’t tell anyone, (especially on TTT!), but lately I’ve been thinking the unthinkable – if someone said they would kill my cat unless I chose between: 1. LFC get to win the league but there’s no football for six months, OR 2. A return to half-baked weekly matches behind closed doors starting next Friday – I might well choose no. 2.

For my mental health, the hammer blow of lock down is that those events that mapped out the next week or so have been washed away. The last significant event I can remember was Beez winning Only Connect and I’ve just found out even that actually happened a year ago! My emotional being keeps reaching out for those mini-adrenaline rushes which used to be signaled by the publishing of the MATCH THREAD here on TTT. It all used to unfurl from there.

Other than a virtual work cycle (if you’re lucky!), there is suddenly little to distinguish the weekend or the midweek. Even the slight thrill of the latest episode of Line of Duty (fill in cops and robbers show of choice) has been dislocated from its weekly curtain call into an endless flow of clickable box sets that can keep you up until the wee hours. The very fabric of time has changed. There are no longer any collective events that keep everyone synchronised apart from news bulletins and briefings and I defy anyone to look forward to those! And yet I continue, compelled by negative emotions like fear and worry, to check in on the stream of tweets and before you know it, am overwhelmed by the river of time.

Here on TTT the days used to be defined by events; namely, football matches. They were almost never ending and you could also sometimes be swept away by the powerful current, but generally the effect was grounding, like trees along the river bank. The events were defined by their emotional envelope: anticipation, speculation, announcement of line ups, the time-warping intensity of the action itself, then visceral response followed by the sharing of perspectives, post-match analysis, and eventually calm reflection with lashings of wisdom and in recent times at least, a cigar with Tomkins!

It’s all gone.

Still. Do we really have to live in a world without events? I understand that it’s difficult to deliver a massive production like the LFC show right now. However, with all the creativity, ingenuity and technological possibilities available online these days, surely the human race ought to be able to offer up some kind of positive zeitgeist experience that could be termed AN EVENT (beyond the daily briefing!)

So, why is it so hard to manufacture an online event? I mean, for Fowler’s sake, for a lot of us our entire connection with a football match is online, we don’t actually see it ‘in the flesh’. Why does everything pale by comparison? I even have difficulty scheduling zoom meetings with people I really like because the format is such a turn off. Why? Is it the artificiality?

An experiment

This got me thinking; what are the constituent parts of (for example) a football match that give it that special ‘event-ness’? It could be interesting to analyse and identify those elements and then, perhaps, that might provide a profile for the kind of things or approaches that might make other kinds of online event more engaging and compelling.

I am of course, at best, a pseudo-scientist and am deliberately playing with ideas and half-baked understanding of scientific concepts and facts, but my hope is that shaking the box might provoke some interesting feedback and/or illumination from the deep knowledge font of the TTT wise folk.

So by means of working method I am going to:

  1. List the things, good and bad, that constitute the experience (of a live match.)
  2. Analyse the emotional envelope. What is actually happening to your body and brain as you move through the stages of the event and what emotions need to be summoned to change your physical state to feel as if something worthwhile (preferably pleasant) has taken place?
  3. What kind of online actions need to happen to construct an experience or event?

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