There has been a loss of kindness throughout the pandemic. The problem is more evident in communities designed and intended to promote resident interaction and socialization.
Condominium communities are “intentional communities”. The term refers to communal living space such as university dormitories. Each small private space is supplemented by common spaces for interaction which combats isolation and loneliness. In condominium communities, this communal space exists but can be underutilized due to various rules and restrictions. Isolation and loneliness worsen when common spaces are closed off to residents. People feel more isolated and less part of a group, which results in a lessening or loss of kindness. Cruelty becomes more common.
Harmony improves when condominium residents feel they have things in common with neighbours. When neighbours are seen less frequently, that common bond is lessened. Conflict is more likely to arise and be handled poorly. Being kind impacts on how issues are addressed and situations resolved. It helps avoid unnecessary conflict escalation along with cost, stress and time.
Disagreements are bound to arise from time-to-time. Most can be resolved on friendly terms and with a friendly tone. Disagreement and being respectful are not mutually exclusive. This is not the prevailing mindset in some communities.
Condominium Community Impact during COVID
Today, far too many try overly hard to avoid their high-rise neighbours. Fewer greet others in lobbies and hallways. Eye contact is avoided. They push the “close door” button on the elevator or wave away others rather than allowing entry.
Condo boards and management actively discourage friendliness. They post notices discouraging residents from walking the hallways for exercise or visiting the lobby to socialize. Residents are urged to stay indoors yet unable to receive delivered packages due to building-imposed restrictions.
The management office is closed to residents yet phones go unanswered along with e-mail and letters. Common areas and social activities have been shut down. Board and committee meetings have been cancelled, or their frequency has been reduced. The virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) is yet another way to keep residents apart.
Kindness is more important today as more deal with loss of employment and income, along with problems arising from extended isolation. Mental and physical health problems are on the rise as kindness disappears. Some argue these are reasonable health and safety precautions. While this may truly be what they believe, available data does not appear to support their actions. One hopes that civility will soon return.
Our communities should be environments where adults can share views, agree to disagree, and find common ground in a friendly and hospitable manner.