COVID and Social Isolation

Social isolation has transpired into a new norm due to the CoronaVirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, but when we analyze the playing fields, technology itself has been the byproduct of social isolation since its existence. Researchers of Pew Research Center, Hampton, Sessions, and Her (2009) found that before the release of this viral plague, technology, particularly smartphones and the internet, has pulled people away from traditional (physical) gatherings and social interactions. Hunt et al. (2018) further this notion speculating that most people, specifically adolescents and young adults, those born into the digital era, preferred communication and socialization through computer-assisted aid, thus avoiding physical encounters. So, given the current nature of the unprecedented circumstance, this is without consequence to this populations but can be detrimentally stressful and conflict-inducing for parents, couples, and others.

Being forced to say indoors for weeks to months at a time and being unable to engage in outdoor social proclivities can be stressful for anyone. However, depending on the people or persons that are locked inside with you it can produce significant benefits and implications. Advantages are related to no travel time for some, and being afforded the ability to multitask and conduct business as usual from the privacy of your own home. People are learning and working from home, some in their pajamas, or while sitting in front of a television. People can engage in online communities and social networking sites. As people still have access to various technologies, the internet, mobile devices, that provides permanently online and permanently connected (POPC) capacity (Parry, 2019), which keeps them virtually interlocked with peers, colleagues, and family members. Modernized tech trends like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Zoom, Google, the internet, and online communities generally receive more traffic than ever before, which has mandated speedy modifications and renovations. According to Anderson and Vogels (2020), it would be detrimental if technical outages or digital disruption were to occur amid this pandemic. This is particularly true for the most vulnerable groups, elderly persons whose preferred method of communication is face-to-face interaction, but given this worst-case scenario, they have succumbed to rely on technology for social richness. Relative to such, research has found that when older adults use technology, it can proliferate their sense of connectedness and health while systematically reducing feelings of loneliness (Chopik, 2016), henceforth, social isolation. Though technology has dimmed and weakened person-to-person interactions and people have substituted virtual interactions for real-time happening, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania also found that excessive use technology is linked to increased levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, particularly among young adults. They have too found that reactive loneliness, as people who live alone, have relocated to a new area where they do not know anyone, are recently divorce or experienced the lost of their loved one can also experience increased levels of lonesomeness (Novotney, 2019). However, the resolve for the youger generations as a way to ameliorate these adverse feelings, emotions, and enhance their psychological well-being is through the diminution of time consciously embedded in virtual worlds and being more mentally involved in physical environments and interactions (Hunt, Marx, Lipson, & Young, 2018). 

Technology has been proven to provide users with a sense of connectedness, belongingness, autonomy, authenticity, reduced lonesomeness, as well as the wherewithal of self-representations and management, and to step out of their actual self and into their desired self (Triberti, Durosini, Aschieri, Villani, & Riva, 2017). Digital communication infrastructures offer digital dexterities for persons to engage in corroborative and collaborative undertakings. Technically-based communications, during physical, social isolation does not mean mental isolation as people can use this time to reevaluate the life significances and strengthen family bonds. Millions of Americans were unfortunately terminated from their jobs, forcing them into financial and psychological turmoil. However, as a significant advantage is that some people have shown profound resilience and compassion for others, those affected and unaffected.

Conversely, people have started to release their inner creativity and constructed a diversified worldwide. Futuristically, people are conducting critical research on their future endeavors and navigating methods to sustain self-efficacy, self-actualization, and personification, and have started to employ self-care into their daily activity. Furthermore, this current run of the mill experience has caused people to pay more attention to their health and combat life complexities. 

The lack of physical accessibility to others due to the risks of exposure and transmission of this ghostly and inherently deadly disease has remarkably increased anxiety and concern. No one knows what the results would entail. No one knows when this will end. Nevertheless, being forced into social isolation is not necessarily a bad thing and can be quite proliferating. The use of technology for socialization, when monitored and used appropriately, can add substance to an individual’s life, increase their life satisfaction, psychological and subjective well-being, produce social richness, and reduce adverse feelings and emotions.

References

Anderson, M., & Vogels, E. A. (2020, March 31). Americans turn to technology during COVID-9 outbreak, say an outage would be a problem. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/31/americans-turn-to-technology-during-covid-19-outbreak-say-an-outage-would-be-a-problem/

Chopik, W. J. (2016). The benefits of social technology use among older adults are mediated by reduced loneliness. Cyber psychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(9),  https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2016.0151

Hampton, K. N., Sessions, L. F., & Her, E. J. (2009, November 4). Social isolation and new technology. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2009/11/04/social-isolation-and-new-technology/

Hunt, M. G., Marx, R., Lipson, C., & Young, J. (2018). No more FOMO: Limiting social media decrease loneliness and depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 37(10), 751-768. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2018.37.10.751

Novotney, A. (2019, May). The risks of social isolation: Psychologists are studying how to combat loneliness in those most at risk, such as older adults. American Psychological Association, 50(5), 32. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation

Parry, D. A. (2019). Permanently online, permanently connected: living and communicating in a POPC world. Information, Communication & Society, 22(12), 1841-1844. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2019.1590441   

Triberti, S., Durosini, I., Aschieri, F., Villani, D., & Riva, G. (2017). Changing avatars, changing selves? The influence of social and contextual expectations on digital rendition of identity. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 20(8), 501-507. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2016.0424

2 comments

  1. Maddie · June 6

    This is a great read.

    Like

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