By Sivaniya Subramaniapillai / 2020-10-29
Although physical distancing does not necessarily mean social distancing, as it was first referenced in the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are often one and the same. Being social usually means spending time with others in a shared physical space, which is undeniably different than the virtual interactions that have become the accepted norm. Seeing our friends and family from behind a monitor is especially dissatisfying when we are only kilometers apart, and while having hundreds of social media “friends” means that we are in many ways more connected than ever, greater use of social media has actually been linked to increased loneliness (1,2).
Physical distancing and working from home also mean that we have lost our so-called weak-ties, our daily interactions with colleagues, neighbours, and acquaintances who we don’t know well enough to pick up the phone and call, but who nevertheless play an important role in our social lives. Through all of our social interactions, whether with close family or casual acquaintances, we share stories and exchange experiences, providing the backbone for meaningful friendships and social ties. In sharing our stories, we not only weave our own personal values, but we communicate the lessons that we learn through our lived experiences that could benefit those listening. The pandemic has made this level of connection difficult for many, and brings with it an inevitable epidemic of loneliness in our communities, affecting both young and old.