He's got an 'ology'  

If I say “it’s good to talk” you might think of the old BT adverts from the 90’s with Bob Hoskins. You might even remember even further back than that and Maureen Lipman bigging up her grandson because he’d got ‘an ology’. Either way it was back in the days before we all had mobile phones (that are more like mini computers) and actually used to talk to each other. 
Our generation grew up in an era before even every household had a phone, let alone individuals.  People had little wooden money boxes by the side of house phones for putting your 2p in if you needed to use a neighbour’s phone because there were only one or two people in the street had them.  There were party lines where neighbours shared a number, and you’d have to wait for the line to be free before you could use it. All through my student years and beyond, I lived in rented properties without a phone. It was common to ring your parents from a call box and get them to phone you back if you wanted to chat. 
These days, despite everyone I know having a mobile I rarely speak on the phone. In fact I don’t have the volume on 99.9% of the time, much to my husband’s annoyance. I’m not even sure what my ringtone sounds like. If I notice a call flashing up, I answer it if I know who it is and have got time, otherwise it goes to voicemail. If the caller leaves a message, I’ll call back when it is convenient. There are a handful of close friends and family that I keep in touch with via phone calls but not many. 

Laptop Lifestyle 

I always say that I could actually run my business through my phone these days. You hear people talk about the ‘Laptop Lifestyle’ and being able to work from, and with anyone,  anywhere in the world. Which, as long as I’ve got  a signal and Wi-Fi I probably could. Zoom and WhatsApp are my most used ways of communication these days. Occasionally people get in touch with me via Messenger, LinkedIn, or Instagram direct messages and of course, there’s good old email – I can even access those on my phone. It’s quite scary really when you think about how much we rely on these little rectangular devices that we carry around in our pockets and handbags. 
There are so many benefits to working online. It is convenient and cuts out travelling time making meetings more efficient. My business mileage is negligible these days compared to pre lockdown. And there’s less effort required than if you’re going out of the house – we joke about it but actually, do you really need to be dressed in anything fit for public consumption if your bottom half is staying off screen. I often do calls in my thick fluffy socks that are only usually seen when I go camping. You don’t even need to worry about brushing your hair at the back! 
A word of warning though if you’re ramping up the filters on Zoom – don’t be disappointed when you see yourself in a well-lit mirror. I know a couple of people who genuinely believe they look like their filter face on Zoom. Beware also if you’re using the ‘make up’ options of eyebrows and lipstick. I was on a meeting last week when someone’s filter eyebrow wasn’t quite matched up and was moving independently. It looked as if it was floating. It was quite distracting. 

Missing human connection 

The other side of all of this though, is the fact that we end up missing the human connection of being in the room with people, and that energy can’t be recreated online. You can’t have the same kind of free-flowing banter and conversations within a group as only one person at a time can speak or it gets a bit difficult to keep track of what’s going on. The novelty of those quiz nights that we enthusiastically enjoyed in the first lock down soon wore off. They became something to be endured as the wine kicked in and everyone started talking over each other. Remember those days when we all naïvely thought it would all be over in 6 weeks, and we’d be back to ‘normal’? 
I don’t know about you, but my life has changed quite a lot since 2020. I’m not sure if it’s the aftermath of lockdown or menopause or a mix of both but I definitely lost confidence in going out and still have some agoraphobic tendencies. The pandemic normalised avoiding crowded places and situations. I haven’t done the regular supermarket shop for over 3 years. Paul took that role on when he was furloughed. He never went back to work as he then took early retirement and I’ve never gone back to the supermarket. I’ve become less sociable than I used to be too. When Paul worked away, I’d go out to choir, the WI, and other social and business groups regularly. Things I haven’t felt I want to pick up again now even though there aren’t any restrictions or the rule of six. 

Travel induced stress 

I’ve shared my anxiety around worrying about parking before, and considering not going to an event because it was going to be difficult to find somewhere close to park.  I got my knickers in a twist and about feeling stressed when travelling back from Wales yesterday. I posted about it on LinkedIn. 
“Rather than drive the 3.5 hours to visit my sister for the weekend I’d gone by train. That’s not something I do often, I usually drive everywhere. 
I’m sure the combination of menopause and lockdown life have taken a piece of me! Earlier this year the thought of a solo train trip had freaked me out. (I still did it to prove to myself that I could. So this time I felt OK about it.) 
At one time it would’ve been no big deal, but the past few years have taken their toll and these days I feel more vulnerable about going places on my own. 
Luggage, a walking stick, and train station stairs are a tricky combination at the best of times. Throw in the meno effect and my post covid hermit tendencies makes going out on my own a bit more stress inducing. 
Anyway, I’d sorted my trains so there was only one change. Getting there had gone smoothly. I’d learned all about Mick from Manchester, who I’d sat next to. He was a widower going to see his mother in-law who always had a load of jobs for him and moaned a lot. He had a bad knee, and his daughter was always asking him for money. 
Then yesterday, coming home, the first train of my journey was cancelled. With a bit of research I worked out I could still get the final leg of my journey, but it meant leaving an hour earlier and then two changes. And not a lot of wriggle room to get the connection...😬 
I have no idea how many times I looked at my phone to check I’d got the right time, the right platform, the right train. I swear I could feel my blood pressure getting higher. 
The first two trains were both a few minutes late in leaving. Every minute was cutting into the 18 minutes to get my connection...I had this low-level anxiety until I hobbled down the longest platform in the world and threw myself through the door of my final train with 2 minutes to spare! Next time I’ll drive. 
I felt very much out of my comfort zone. I’m not sure I like this nervous traveller version of me. I obviously need to get out more. The post covid convenience of online everything is all well and good for many reasons but what is it taking away?” 
Identity challenged 
Back to my point about it being good to talk. What I’ve found quite interesting is that, when I’ve opened up and talked about my sense of identity being challenged and these kinds of anxieties and issues that I’ve faced, it resonates with so many other women. I get comments and messages that basically say, ‘me too’. It’s ok to admit these things. It doesn’t make you weak. You can still be a successful, confident woman in business with  unwanted feelings and fears.  So I’ll leave you with this thought from Bob Hoskins and the BT ads – even though we don’t use our house phones much these days, it’s still always good to talk. 
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