Are We Socially Awkward After Covid-19?

“You might have a knee-jerk reaction to withdraw sharply when someone goes to hug you. If so, this is a byproduct of your highly plastic brain having been trained to protect you from COVID over the past year but is something you have the agency to rescript with time.” L. Johnson, Popsugar, May 20, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- Popsugar

Excerpt: I’ve Really Missed People, but Has COVID Made Us Socially Awkward? By Lacey Johnson, Popsugar May 20, 2021

“For more than a year, many of us have felt alone, together. And no matter if our professions kept us home or on the front lines of the pandemic, I think we’ve all dealt with losing the daily rhythms, freedoms, and lifestyles that collectively defined us. Early in the pandemic, therapists reported an urgent rush of mental health crises in the midst of such swift change, isolation, and grief…Perhaps we didn’t realize how much we valued a friendly smile in an elevator or the sound of a barista shouting our latte order from across a noisy cafe…The coronavirus pandemic left us fumbling with our uncertainties about the future from the privacy of our homes, feeling a lifetime away from many of the people we love most.

Image- Marc Rosenthal, The New York Times

There’s no question that the sudden, dispiriting changes that swept across our communities and social infrastructures have since dug their roots into our internal landscapes, too. In fact, the data has become clear: scientists have tracked a massive surge in depression… So as the world slowly begins to reopen, it raises an important question: after having spent so much time away from each other…logging into Zoom to celebrate a milestone birthday with friends, being counseled and consoled through apps, and keeping at least six feet of distance while roaming the produce aisle, what if it feels weird to engage with each other in real life again?

‘This summer is going to be lit!’ one of my friends said to me recently after I recited some items from my overzealous post-COVID bucket list.

The New York Times

But as the vaccine numbers continue to rise and America’s case numbers go down, allowing more American cities to swing open their social doors, others are grappling with mixed emotions about postpandemic reentry…we called upon the experts to explore ways that we might not yet realize we’ve changed, with guidance for how to be compassionate with ourselves and each other as we reenter the world… Dr. Kevin Gilliland, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist and executive director of Innovation360, said that as we slowly transition back into a pre-COVID pulse of life, we should prepare ourselves for some level of awkwardness and bouts of self-consciousness…Therapist Arien Conner, LCSW, and owner of Clear Path Counseling, said that, in the midst of our social reawakening, when we notice that someone appears uncomfortable, we might pause to give them empathy and patience within their respective comfort level… So once your city opens up and you feel it’s safe to roam about it, slide on your most fabulous attire and venture out for a swanky happy hour with your friends. Perhaps wander into a cozy poetry reading or trivia night.”

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities:  Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities: Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. We’ve all dealt with losing the daily lifestyles that collectively defined us.
  2. We found ourselves craving lighthearted office banter, harmless gossip fizzy cocktails.
  3. Perhaps we didn’t realize how much we valued the sound of a barista shouting our latte order from across a noisy cafe.
  4. Since COVID-19 gripped America, it’s been a ruthless, scary, and consequential year.
  5. You might have a knee-jerk reaction to withdraw sharply when someone goes to hug you.
  6. It might seem weird to engage with each other in real life again.
  7. I made my overzealous post-COVID bucket list.
  8. Humans are a profoundly adaptive and resilient species.
  9. Some people saw their once-thriving business being swept clean.
  10. Others realized they couldn’t wait to monetize their ideas.

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. For more then a year, many of us have felt alone.
  2. We found ourselves craving lighthearted office banter.
  3. We didn’t realize how much we valued a friendly smile.

II

  1. It’s been a ruthless, scary, and consequential year.
  2. The coronavirus pandemic left us fumbling with our uncertainties about the future.
  3. After the year-plus that we’ve had, it’s safe to say we deserve a celebration.

III

  1. Typically it take three to six months to form a habit.
  2. Humans are a profoundly adaptive and resilient species.
  3. For some individuals, the pandemic pointed them toward power they didn’t know they had.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “Typically it takes three to six months to form a habit, and this includes behavioral and thought habits.”
  2. You’ve likely been masking, social distancing, and closely following the reports for more than a year now, so your brain is naturally going to stop you from doing certain things you may have once done on a daily basis.”
  3. “… in the midst of our social reawakening, when we notice that someone appears uncomfortable, we might pause to give them empathy and patience within their respective comfort level.”
  4. “With few opportunities for socializing and outward distraction, we’ve each had a huge mirror held up in front of us.”
  5. “In my practice, I work mostly with women, and many of them started the pandemic by setting clear, firm boundaries around COVID for their immediate family’s safety.”
  6. “For some, their lockdown experience was hell in every way possible. For others, it was the transformative pause that they needed but never would have given themselves.”
  7. “We need to be mindful that our experience might look nothing like our colleague’s or neighbor’s.”
  8. “We found that the tremendous self-reflection experienced in the pandemic led Hinge users to reassess their priorities in love.”
  9. “According to our most recent research, 75 percent of Hinge daters are no longer looking for something casual but seeking a meaningful relationship.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. The article states, “The coronavirus pandemic left us fumbling with our uncertainties about the future from the privacy of our homes, feeling a lifetime away from many of the people we love most…In fact, the data has become clear: scientists have tracked a massive surge in depression.”  Did you miss being with certain family members and friends? Which ones? Did you experience depression during this time? Was there anyone close to help you?
  2. In your opinion, is it strange to engage with people again? Please explain why or why not.
  3. The author states that they have a “post-COVID bucket list.” Do you have a list of things you want to do this summer? What are they?
  4. Some people feel anxious about leaving their homes and meeting people. Have you or someone you know experienced these feelings?
  5. Write down three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention.

ANSWER KEY