From Social to Mental Distancing – Is Corona Killing Communication?

It’s ironic, isn’t it? The more connected our world became, the more disconnected everyone seemed to be.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? The more connected our world became, the more disconnected everyone seemed to be.

Technology has its positive points but how often do we walk down the street surrounded by people with their heads down, fingers scrolling or typing, barely paying attention to what’s going on around them?

A Smart Upgrade?

There’s no denying the power of technology and social media. In minutes, content has the ability to spread, influence, and entertain people all around the world. An unknown individual can in an instant touch the lives of millions worldwide. Is this a good thing?

It certainly can be. It’s easier than ever to connect to others, to learn, to stand up for a cause, but unfortunately, it has also changed the way we connect and communicate in person. And, being in the midst of a global pandemic, we might be on the brink of a whole new level of mental distancing.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, smartphones, the web, and social media were all influencing our relationships as well as our interpersonal skills.

For one, relationships have become more superficial. Social media was, and still is, a way to keep up appearances. What you see online seems to matter more than what’s going on in someone’s actual life. It’s also more about the quantity of relationships you have than the quality.

COVID and Communication – Do We Have a Problem?

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, not only do we get to choose to spend time at home on our smartphones, but we’re being encouraged to do so and to keep social distancing.

Every country currently has different restrictions in place to help flatten the curve but overall, we can’t do much of what we used to be able to. Meeting up with family and friends, eating out, and travel are all discouraged, or banned completely.

Working from home, catching up with friends using technology, and isolating have become the new norm. The question is what effect is this having on our mental state? How can we keep being united from a distance?

In what feels like a completely different world, we are slowly starting to normalize these new restrictions – we have to – but is there a line? Not only are we spending more time online but constantly being isolated from friends, family, and work colleagues is taking its toll.

As humans, connection is essential. Limiting our ability to connect with people in person and pairing that with our strong online habits is bound to have a long-term negative effect.

Until we can get the COVID pandemic under control, spending more time in isolation and feeling removed from our normal lives is going to be our reality. This doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to keep personal connections alive though, unity is highly important. In fact, this can be an excellent time to rebuild some of our relationships and friendships, create a stronger foundation that has been diminished over the last decade and put in place norms and values that will build a stronger community in the long run.

Instead of texting someone you love, schedule a phone or video call. Instead of spending another hour on social media, sign up for an online exercise class. Instead of sending your children into the other room to keep busy, make dinner together and talk about things face-to-face. The changes we can make are not complex – the ability to live this way has been there all along.

We can all take steps to stop social distancing from turning into mental distancing – for our sakes and the sake of our children. Let’s make personal connections a priority again and once the pandemic has passed us, continue to build on the strong foundations we have been given the gift to create anew.

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Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air Dr CEO & Co-Founder

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.