Social Animals, 2020 - 2021

I remember seeing the odd den in our local woods, but when the pandemic started and we were told we had to stay at home and not socialise, so many more started to appear. Sometimes they would be in clusters, like a small ephemeral village.

Sometimes there would be evidence of a party – canisters, empty cans and plastic baggies – scattered on the floor around a larger group den (headquarters?), often with logs inside that had been collected to use as benches positioned around the remnants of a fire.

I remember wincing when I noticed young easy-to-reach trees had been stripped of their lower branches to provide the necessary building materials. But I was still encouraged that these young people were engaging with the woods. I remember admiring the rebellion.

To be denied the chance to mix with friends was “crippling for the youngsters whose teenage years are supposed to be a rite of passage.” “Humans are social animals, for whom social confinement is punishment.”

(Cavendish, 2021 - ’Young people’s mental health must be a priority this lockdown’) 

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