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Touchless Part I: Are we moving towards a touchless society?

Are we moving toward a touchless society?

I’m now starting to wonder.  The COVID phenomenon is rapidly changing human behaviour that has been rooted in millennia.  Long-standing business processes also have changed almost overnight.  For example, people used to wear masks to rob banks…now you can’t enter a bank without wearing one.  We used to greet each other with hugs if we knew the other person well, or a friendly handshake if we didn’t. 

Human closeness and connection was one of the major factors that allowed homosapiens to vacate the safety of the trees our insignificant ancient ancestors called home, to the dominant species we are today. (Please read the thought-provoking book Sapiens). 

The very survival of our species depended on tightly woven family and tribal connections that have been cultured over the millennia. Embedded in our DNA is a yearning for connection that has its roots in hundreds of thousands of years that guaranteed our safety and pre-eminence. 

Enter COVID which is splitting us apart.  Now our personal “bubbles” now have to be 2 meters apart.  The health officials and politicians call that “Social Distancing” or “Physical Distancing”. Instead of closeness being a hallmark of community mindedness, now the exact opposite is true.  Our internal “radar” now has to be recalibrated to spot incoming human “threats” coming into our 6-foot space like missiles from an enemy country.  We also have to be certain our own movements don’t invade someone else’s airspace.  Our personal radar has to be ever vigilant! 

We now have to obey new rules that are deliberately crafted to keep us apart.  Little circles inside/outside public buildings guide our spacing.   We have to deal with customer limits at retail stores that are monitored by staff at the front door.  Of course, we dutifully wait outside in line, six feet apart on our little circle, all the while getting wet, frozen, or windblown until it is our turn.

It used to be “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”.  Now it is simply “No Mask, No Service”!! 

Once inside, our movements are dictated by arrows telling which direction we should be traveling down the aisles.  If our minds should wander, or our vigilance become lax, woe becomes us if we go down an aisle in the wrong direction!!!  We have to endure the “stink eye” stares of other customers or staff as they give us a wide berth, muttering negative pleasantries as they go by!  Whoever would have dreamed a short six months ago that little circles and arrows on the floor would take on so much importance?  How many people ever heard of Zoom six short months ago?! 

Oh, if our arboreal ancestors could see us now!!!

They’d either laugh…or shake their heads in disbelief…maybe wondering why coming out of the trees didn’t require circles and arrows!

Don’t get me wrong!!!  This is not some right-wing, Trumpian rant!  I believe all of these measures are absolutely necessary to save lives.  We should do them!! We have ample evidence to see the immediate negative results when we don’t.

But let’s think about this!!! What are the side effects??  What are the long term ramifications?  Are we in fact overturning hundreds of thousands of years of relying on physical proximity and connection that was required for our species’ development…and becoming a Touchless Society? 

Likely everyone on the face of the earth has an opinion on COVID, I know I do, but no one really knows how the future will unfold.

Even our health and political leadership have been wrong time and time again.  We can’t blame them because we are all traversing new territory.  Yet, there is one feeling most of us share and can’t shake and it is this…we feel that everything around us is fundamentally changing to something new…maybe forever.

Who knows??...but if that proves to be true, even in the short run, how do we align ourselves personally and organizationally to these tectonic changes?

I’m thinking a lot about that and about how those tectonic changes will affect the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities.  I’m thinking about how we, as a charitable organization providing programs and services to some of the most powerless and vulnerable in our communities, continue to not only serve their needs effectively but now also to assist them to traverse this new change.  I believe we have a responsibility to do so.

Everything we do at Enterprise4Good is built on the foundation of one and only one basic principle…and that principle is how the concept of Social Enterprise can create connection!  Everything we do is based on that.  All our programs and services, how we think, how we measure ourselves, our planning for the future, etc. are based on this simple yet powerful principle.

If we fail to create or imbue the connection between “community” and the people we serve…then we are a failure as an organization.  The people we serve are already on the margins of society and if not properly addressed, a Touchless Society created by COVID will make them even more marginalized…divided from opportunity, relationships, happiness, and a life that has meaning.  I passionately believe we have a duty to address those issues

Stay tuned for how we do that.  Part II will come out shortly.