Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

This is the weekly Amplify newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you, you can sign up for Amplify and all Globe newsletters here.

Two women observe social distancing measures as they speak to each other from adjacent park benches amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic, in the centre of York, northern England, on March 19, 2020.

OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

To say it was odd would be an understatement.

But there I was, in aisle 7 of my local grocery store, nodding vigorously as a woman I’d met, but whose name I couldn’t quite muster, shared her family’s new plan to cut back on toilet paper.

Story continues below advertisement

“...So my husband says, 'That’s it! From now on, we skip the TP altogether and go straight from the toilet to shower! No wiping!” she roared, laughing nervously as we both eyed the ransacked toilet paper shelf.

I would be lying if I said I was offended by this blatant over-share. The truth was, I hadn’t talked to a human face-to-face in 48 hours and I had been wearing the same yoga pants for just as long. I wasn’t just okay with it, I needed it.

Of all the strange new realities taking hold in this scary pandemic – quarantines, the sudden gold-like value of Purell – I’m struck most by the tiny, radical acts of connectivity. We’re all keeping our distance, yes, but from my small corner of the world, the new rule seems to be: physical closeness is out and social intimacy is in.

It was in this spirit that I found myself shout-talking from the sidewalk with a neighbour across the street. Our usual interactions were limited to a quick nod in passing, but this was different: did I need a ride to the grocery store? Can you believe we’re all stuck in this strange new universe? How are you doing, for real?

And it’s not just strangers. This new mode of social outreach is catching on among people I know and love, too. A new groupchat with my siblings is buzzing along on my phone at all hours, where every absurd meme and news flash is dissected or LOL’ed. Last night my phone dinged with a request to – gasp! – FaceTime with a group of friends. (This is a direct violation of my pre-pandemic social code: don’t call me unless someone is dead or missing. Text-only, please.) But I grudgingly answered the call.

Perhaps I’ve been hardened by life in a big city, where space, both physical and emotional, is the ultimate commodity. We routinely bustle shoulder-to-shoulder across busy crosswalks and elbow each other at the dairy station at Starbucks because we have no choice. As writer Molly Longman explains on Refinery29, this lack of physical space is only made tolerable by the unspoken rules that give us distance in other ways: eye-contact is brief and unobtrusive, chit-chat is impersonal or nonexistent and it’s widely understood that blurting out your bathroom routines is a no-no. In other words, it’s somehow okay that we’re lodged in a stranger’s armpit on the rush-hour train because we never have to see them again, let alone make polite conversation.

Now, we have all the space we need – and yet routine acts feel more intimate than ever. On conference calls at work, we’ve given up the guise that our lives outside the office are separate and private. The background noise of wailing children and barking dogs has broken down any illusions that our coworkers are just people we see in the office every day. They have lives and families and unruly pets – and we can hear all of it when we listen hard enough.

Story continues below advertisement

These scary, uncertain times remind me of why I’ve always liked record-breaking blizzards. They force us to confront something big and inconvenient and dangerous by coming together, by sharing our burdens and frustrations, and yes, by participating in the dreaded FaceTime chat.

For now, maybe it’s time to embrace our newfound closeness (from a respectable physical distance, of course). We’ll be avoiding each other’s gaze again in no time, I promise.

What else we’re thinking about:

Like most parents out there, I’m struck with dread at the prospect of entertaining two kids at home while carrying on some semblance of work. So I’ve been heartened by some of the practical advice I’ve been getting from The Globe and others. In the meantime, I’ve been catching up on some incredible stories I’ve missed in the blur of news. This tale of a group of rafters who went off the grid during a trip and came home to a world upside down was particularly fascinating.

Inspired by something in this newsletter? If so, we hope you’ll amplify it by passing it on. And if there’s something we should know, or feedback you’d like to share, send us an e-mail at amplify@globeandmail.com.

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies