Community or not? Spiked spot on.

We talk a lot about the economic, health and civil-liberties costs of lockdown. And rightly so. The damage done by this global experiment in authoritarianism to our livelihoods, liberties and physical and mental wellbeing will take a long time to repair.

But what of the social cost of a year of us keeping our distance from one another; of being told to see one another as vectors of disease; of being encouraged to blame and snitch on one another; of being conditioned to see a crowd of our fellow citizens and wince? What damage will this do to community and solidarity?

Lockdown risks accelerating all manner of problems that we were already dealing with. Social atomisation, the fraying of community, is one of them. From trade unions to churches, institutions that once provided a sense of shared purpose have been withering away for decades. Panic after panic has encouraged us to think the worst of other people.

As the Office for National Statistics put it in February 2020, ‘We are engaging less with our neighbours but more with social media’, and as for our communities, ‘fewer of us feel like we belong to them’. Just add to that a year of house arrest, Zoom and keeping our distance.

Here’s hoping opening up will remind us just how much we were missing – even before Covid struck.

Aye, opening up in England!

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