In the Era of Social Distancing, Contact is Important

Published by Fardeen Sheikh on

In the era of social distancing, contact is important

As humans, we are designed to be social. This means that we are at our best when we are with our loved ones in our communities.

The need for companionship has been observed by many sociologists and psychologists, such as Abraham Maslow, who included love and belonging as the third level in his hierarchy of needs.

It is difficult to maintain a strong bond with people during this pandemic since we have been forced to shut down and socially distance from each other. This has led to increased feelings of loneliness, and these feelings of loneliness have adversely affected people’s mental and physical health.

Amanda Funger | Avant-Youth

The Effects of Loneliness

Various studies have found connections between having strong social bonds and better overall health, showing that the lack of strong relationships increases premature death from all causes by 50%. This mortality risk factor has been compared to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.

Loneliness is something that affects most Americans, a recent study by Cigna found that 61% of adults reported that they are lonely. A lack of social connections has also been found to lead to heart problems, worsened mental health, increased stress and a weaker immune system.

The importance of having a strong community is even written in the World Health Organization’s constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

All of this suggests that love and belonging are needs for every person to live a healthy and fulfilled life. It’s something that has become increasingly difficult to achieve in the midst of a global pandemic.

Using Digital Spaces

Several digital options have come forth to allow us to achieve that human connection we need during these unprecedented times, such as chat rooms and video chat apps like Zoom and Google Meet. Social media platforms like Facebook have even stepped up their video chat tools to answer this need.

Video chat apps have come a long way since the early days of Skype and they will continue to improve and become more advanced and allow us to connect with people no matter how far away they might be from us.

The emergence of these digital spaces is important for us to maintain a sense of regularity in the middle of a highly irregular period in history. It is ultimately a way to fight off loneliness in an effective and responsible manner.

You can use these apps to organize happy hours with your friends, cook meals together, watch movies and TV shows or just take the time to talk to each other.

These digital spaces have also allowed people to continue dating in the middle of the pandemic with Zoom dinner dates becoming a very popular way to get to know someone. 

There are also several fun Facebook groups you can join and meet people, such as a group where people pretend to be baby boomers or a group of people interested in ‘80s aesthetics.

Therefore, it is important to organize get-togethers with your friends and family through these digital platforms until we can safely physically hang out with each other in large groups.

Not only is it important to initiate and create such digital environments in order to keep in contact with our loved ones, but we should strive to use them to strengthen and deepen these relationships. They should be an extension of our community so that even in the future, we can continue to nurture our connections with those closest to us even if they aren’t physically near us.

Creating and maintaining close-knit communities is something that has stuck with us throughout all of human history. It is with the support of our loved ones that we have achieved so many great things, and our community is what will carry us through to the end.

This sense of community we have should be strengthened – not lost during this pandemic. 

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Fardeen Sheikh

Fardeen Sheikh

Fardeen Sheikh is from Stockholm, Sweden, and he has travelled the world at a very young age. Before coming to Atlanta, he’s lived around Europe and the Middle East. He has recently moved back to Sweden, and is going to study Journalism in City, University of London. Sheikh enjoys watching movies, drinking inordinate amounts of coffee, photography, writing and drawing–even with his best attempts–stick figures. He speaks Bengali, Hindi, French, English and Swedish, while learning a bunch of new things in his free time.

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