Social distancing Tips

Well, well, well... Corona.

For most countries now across the globe, a lot of Governments are now recommending distancing yourself physically from the rest of society. This means that you are, if you can, to work from home, restrict travel, and stay at your home as much as possible.

So, what can a cybersecurity specialist who is stuck in the Baltic states gonna blog about in regards to this outbreak, and how will he be able to provide helpful advice? Well, before my career into the wonderful world of virtual viruses, I was in the Navy deployed on Submarines, Mine-hunters and Frigates.

You'll be pleased to hear this isn't about cyber hygiene advice, more about "how to stay sane".

Whilst I was in the Navy for thirteen years, for over seven of them I was deployed within a rusty tin can (also known as a 'Submarine or a Ship'), unable to escape and living in close proximity to people for long periods of time, without social interaction from the outside world. We were and are all responsible for maintaining morale during those difficult conditions. This is effectively what everyone is now doing. It isn't personal isolation, it's social avoidance. The end result is that you may fall into two categories:

  • You live alone, your limited social interaction is a few people & mainly online communications.
  • You are now living with your family, a flatmate, and no longer able to "catch a break".
Either way, cabin fever will start to kick in, and this is something us Matelots know a lot about. You will have arguments. China has seen a boom in divorce rates after confinement with their partners during the peak of the outbreak. [1] So, what can you do to keep your and your families sanity in check?

Keep a routine
It is easy to say "I'm working from home, I'll have a lie-in". Don't. Stick to your normal time of waking up; get up, make breakfast, make your bed, then get on with your day. Do not change your timetable too much. It is easy to go down that very dark path. Irregular sleep patterns will very quickly affect your emotional state.
 
Go to bed at a normal hour. Put your phone away. Do not spend hours checking your phone at night, even if you normally do. Now is not the time.

Are you a Virus Expert?
If you are, crack on. It's your job, and your knowledge is invaluable. Are you an HR specialist? Or Cybersecurity Pentester? Or do you specialise in 17th Century English Poetry? Then stick to that, and please stop sharing about what your idiot mate Dave told you on WhatsApp about it, or your half-arse opinion on the fact that Heinz Bat Soup was the cause of the outbreak. Unless you really know what you are talking about, stop trying to gain insightful analytics from all of these live datasets. You don't know what you are doing. You will come up with scary numbers and death rates that are just completely inaccurate, idiotic, and then when you share them you will scare more people. That, in itself, is a virus. Don't do it. If you see something that is on a Government's website or trusted news source that is helpful advice? Share it. Your mate Dave that believes the world is flat and that this virus was made by Aliens? Ignore it. Please. Misinformation is just as bad as the virus and spreads far quicker. (Dave is completely fictional in this context, by the way. No Daves were harmed during the making of this blog post).

Engage with your partner, housemate and family
Make sure you just aren't always on your device. Watch a movie together, play a board game (I fully recommend Uckers - although it will make arguments happen) [2]

In terms of talking to family and friends externally; try and do it via telephone, facetime or on your communications medium of choice. Don't rely on messages. You do need to socially interact, otherwise, you will spiral. Make it part of your routine, and actually do it. It gives everyone something to look forward too and actually provides some *near as damn it* real one on one time. Facebook status updates don't count.

If you are on your own, this point is even more important and must be part of your routine. You need this interaction. It is easy to feel that you can't be bothered. You really need to make an effort. It pays off dividends for your mental health.

Do not judge and be a negative nancy
Already I have had the displeasure of hearing "gossip" spread like wildfire; about people, about the virus, about companies, about colleagues. Stop it immediately in its tracks. On a ship, if anything like that is heard its source is immediately located and stopped, it will spread across the ship's company and is a plague. It damages morale and achieves nothing. It is very important that you do not join in. Do you have a job that you can do from home? Great. Others in society do not. Either due to circumstances or to the fact that their job requires them to be present. You heard it on the grapevine that "x went to the shops the other day and sneezed?" Keep it to yourself. Any toxic gossip you hear, call it out to the person saying it and stop it in its tracks.

Sense of humour
This one is the most vital. Keep laughing, keep enjoying life. During my time in the Navy, I had some of the hardest conditions I've ever had to put up with in my life. It was my shipmates, and our joint terrible sense of humour, that made those most challenging times also my best. Spin dits (stories for non-military folk). Say terrible jokes. Laugh at the situation, it really does help.

For those that have never done anything like this before, communications and routines are key. When you have an argument, and you will; take a pause, talk about it, and you will end up getting on okay. Do not let it fester.

I mean, after all, the worst challenge that Donald Trump has had during his presidency is a virus from China, named after a Mexican beer. You have to laugh...

Stay safe, everyone.



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