There was a time that I would go out with friends or my husband and you would observe others looking at their smartphones. They were in the same place but they were not together. A few years ago, we vacationed to Mexico for a wedding. I observed a family of 4, rent a cabana bed and sit by the poolside on their tablets and/or phones all day. No interaction with one another, what so ever.
Even I have looked at my phone during a night of socializing with friends and/or family. My posts or a meme a friend sent was more interesting than the company I was keeping. No really, but I have also been sucked into the screen. Many a time.
Our internet interaction was a way to escape our overly responsible lives. A way to escape our stresses. At a time when we could enjoy face to face contact, we didn’t and now look.
All of our communication skills of face to face contact has been taken away from us and we are all struggling. We are putting ourselves in danger just to make contact with someone… anyone. Why??? because our internet connections to others are not satisfying enough. As a counselor, I have been preaching this for some time. As humans, we cannot survive without face to face engagement. We cannot survive alone on written words and text messages. We need to read facial expressions, verbal and nonverbal communication, to touch and to be touched. We are learning now through this pandemic that we need interactions, engagement and affection to survive.
In the United States, 1944, an experiment was conducted on 40 newborn infants to determine whether or not individuals could thrive alone on basic physiological needs with affections. These babies were separated into two groups- 20 in each group. One group only received basic needs of feeding and changing. While the other group-housed in another room received basic needs and nurturing. The experiment was terminated after four months. More than half of the babies that received no engagement of communication died. Two more died even after they were given all of the basic necessities including engagement. Before each baby died, there was a period where they would stop verbalizing through cry to engage with the caregivers. They stopped moving even. They would die shortly after. There was no physiological reason for their deaths. It was as though the babies had “given up”. The other children that received all ways of life had no deaths.
The conclusion was that face to face engagement and communication is crucial to the needs of humans. I use this example often in counselling and in my private life. I am not a fan of the experiment to say the least however it is a strong point in proving we need nurturing and affection to live.
Now.. I am a firm believer that if COVID-19 happened even just a few years back, without technology we would be in a much worse condition regarding any social contact however even with it, we are struggling. I am struggling. I am an extrovert and I am a touch talker. I communicate with all my forms of communication (verbal, nonverbal and touch). I am also very social. I enjoy being with people. I am a hugger and a feeler upper (take that as you will … LOL) and I am struggling without a doubt. My soul feels odd and disconnected from others.
We all wanted some “US” time. Some time off. Some time to rest. We didn’t want to be bothered by neighbors or people coming to our doors. Long lost are the days of borrowing butter and sugar from someone close by. We have isolated ourselves long before this virus. BUT when you remove our social choices and freedoms, we struggle. Now I observe people talking as they pass one another by during their daily walk. Now I observe communities coming together to help one another. Now I see toilet paper being shared. Now I see politeness and smiles. Now I see respect for the elderly, and the disabled.
Now I see people seeing and missing other people. So maybe… just maybe this virus is doing more good then destroying. Maybe this virus is not only giving us messages about how we need to change the way we treat this planet but also how we need to go back to simpler ways of human contact…
Be well and Be Kind. Stay home and Stay safe.