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“There's intense family friction”: 6 Victorians on the reality of choosing a social bubble.

The social bubble… Like a pandemic cherry on top of the sh*t sundae that is COVID-19 for all Victorians. 

Firstly, we're having to decipher and understand what exactly the convoluted social bubble entails and what it means for us, and if that wasn’t enough, we're also having to teeter across the very fine tightrope that is choosing who will be in our family’s social bubble without pissing someone off, or many someones off.

Like a less grim version of Sophie’s Choice or a more serious version of picking your team in P.E, both regional Victorians and Melbournians are having to choose - from all of their family and friends - which other household will be the ‘lucky’ one to be a part of their social bubble and visit them at their home... with limits of course. 

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In regional Victoria this household social bubble option began on September 16, while Melbournians still have to wait until at least October 26. Up until then, only those living alone, or single parent households are eligible to form a one-person bubble (to visit one person at their house or vice versa), meaning their choices are even more limited. 

So yes, it is confusing at times - but worse than that, it has been described by some as stressful and anxiety-inducing, and it's creating feelings of obligation, frustration and conflict between family members. 

Then there are others who are just completely the F over it.  

Six Victorians shared their experiences trying to choose their social bubbles, and let's just say - we feel for them.

Ella and her husband, from regional Victoria, say the social bubble decision caused “intense family friction”.

"My parents and my husband’s parents began to argue over who should be in our social bubble and were pitting us against each other to have us choose them.

My parents would be in my ear with a list of reasons why I should choose them, my husband’s parents were doing the same thing to him and even offered to babysit the kids if we chose them, like some sort of bribe.

After they all started arguing in our WhatsApp family group chat we drew the line and ended up choosing my brother and his family instead. Needless to say, none of our parents were impressed with us after this but at least the kids get to play with their cousins, so they’re happy!"

23 year old Abby, from Melbourne, lives alone and is excited to have a household social bubble - yet feels obligated to choose her family. 

"I am sooooo excited for this household social bubble because as such a social person, not being able to visit any family or friends has been really challenging and I just miss them all so much.

But choosing who to go into my household bubble has been so difficult. On one hand I have a group of girlfriends who live together and having them as my social bubble would be fun and an instant mood lifter, but on the other hand I have my parents and younger sister who assume that I am choosing them.

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I know in a few weeks, when the time comes I will choose my family even though I’d prefer my friends. I just don’t think there is any other option without really upsetting my family."

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*Lucy, from Melbourne, has to choose between her two parents 

My parents divorced about five years ago and it's still pretty tense between them. Neither have asked for me to choose them as their social bubble household but given that I am their only child and my kids are their only grandchildren, I think they are assuming that one of them will be.

Knowing that the bubble will be extended in about a month to households, while positive in some ways, is also agonising for myself and for my partner as we try and work out who to choose. I feel like I am literally picking sides by choosing one and not the other and I have no idea what I will do.

I know this is meant to be step forward, but I am conflicted, stressed and just overwhelmed by the decision because I know it will impact whoever I don’t pick, whether they say so or not."

*Ryan, from Melbourne, says he is over it and will ignore the bubble option.

"I think the social bubble is complete and utter BS. People aren’t going to follow it, not after a few weeks at least, that’s just how it is. We've been isolated enough, everyone is just over it now - I know I am. Selfish or not, I have chosen to ignore the bubble. I have done my part; I am done. When we can move forward with the household social bubbles, I plan on visiting all of my family and friends who will let me."

Taylor, a regional Victorian university student who is living at home, had no say in the decision.  

"I am a 21-year-old uni student who has had to move back home due to COVID. While I am luckier than some in this situation, I still find the rules and restrictions around the social bubble a bit limiting. 

With the current stage two rules, our household can choose one other - which meant my parents chose my grandparents, which means so did I.

I had no say in who was chosen as our bubble household, although even if I had been asked, I don’t think I would have had much luck arguing for one of my girlfriends. I get it, but I miss hanging out with my friends and wish we could have more options."

Maria, from Melbourne, says it is too hard to decide so she's choosing no one.  

"My husband and I have really big families who are already bickering and upset about the choices that our siblings have made about who will be in their household social bubble. To be honest, we just can’t deal with this on top of everything else right now, so we have decided to pick no one. 

We will just meet up for a walk or a picnic (when that is allowed) with different family members and friends and when it is all over, or at least not as strict, we will visit them at their home and have them over to ours again then."

Shona Hendley, Mother of cats, goats and humans is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. You can follow her on Instagram. 

Feature Image: Getty

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