Technology and Creativity Filling the Void of Social Needs
At a point during the height of the pandemic, I was sitting on my couch, in my small one-bedroom apartment, when a thought crept into my mind. It was an irrelevant thought. A question in fact. A simple inquiry as to when was the last time I physically spoke to someone that I knew, face-to-face.
I remember putting a decent amount of thought towards the question, racking my brain for any social instances I found myself in over the past few days. A nod to the mailman, a “thank you” to the stranger holding the door open for me at Whole Foods, and a three-minute phone call with my mom. As easily as the question prompted itself within my mind, I quickly dismissed all of the halfhearted attempts of socialization out loud. Just as the words, “those don’t count” left my lips, my eyes immediately widened, and shock ran through my body. It turns out the person I had been physically speaking with the most, was myself.
I instantly shifted my thoughts from: who was the last person I spoke to, to: how quickly can I find another human to talk to? It was in that moment that I realized; this was the reality of my quarantine. This was the reality of feeling a sense of loneliness like I’ve never felt before.
There is a need for socialization. A need we all have. A need we all crave. And a need that we are used to fulfilling on a daily basis. However, that need, still as apparent as ever, has been abandoned, not by our own choice, but by the circumstance we have all found ourselves in. We have been locked into spaces created by four walls and many times, empty rooms. Our newest companion, who hears all of what we have to say, think, or feel, is the subtle, but sometimes bold, voice that lives deep within our minds. We began to add characters into our daily stories simply by referring to ourselves in the third person; imagining our inner voices to be a physical accomplice to whatever task may consume our day.
We constructed our own lives within this quarantine. Some look busy, some stay simple. And we have discovered what this lack of socialization looks like within our own minds. Often times, we have been bombarded by the weight of the thoughts present within our consciousness, giving them no marked exit for them to escape through, besides a conversation with ourselves.
The sheer fact that the socialization we once experienced daily, was lost almost completely, takes an enormous toll on our minds. Our social identities have been temporarily misplaced, and the overwhelming desire to talk to someone, in any manner, other than over the phone, has grown tremendously. A need for a courier pigeon or a tin can phone with a piece of string had never been greater. No matter how introverted we may think we are, the human species is a social species. And in one way or another, we are all feeling the hints of loneliness that this quarantine has placed upon us. You are not alone, nor are you socially doomed.
Although we are currently getting to a point in this pandemic where we are slowly and safely becoming more social (we aren’t out of the woods just yet friends), social settings may still not look quite like what we are used to. In hindsight, the two terms I think everyone now associates an instinctive eye roll with are “unprecedented” and “virtual.” Our lives were not meant to be unprecedented, nor were they meant to be virtual. But with the sliver of hope that we can all combat this sense of loneliness caused by the pandemic, the term “virtual” seems to be saving our social lives.
Creativity lived within us far before any mention of a pandemic. However, it looks like the quarantine was just what was needed to spark the creative onset to socializing from a distance. We all love our Facetime chats, zoom calls, and even snail mail (just for that sense of feeling “vintage”). But what has been the true saving grace to fulfill our social needs, while physically being so far away from others, has been the creativity poured into the virtual revamping of our normal social outings.
So many people have been attempting to fill the void of socialization and block out the feeling of loneliness within their own lives, that they have taken action and created a sense of community for so many more individuals feeling the same way. From Zoom meetings, online cooking classes and Zumba workouts, to virtual book clubs and birthday parties, the world has never been more connected than it is currently on a screen.
With the idea to override our sense of solitude, an endless amount of companies, and individuals, have constructed social environments for us to partake in, within the comfort of our own homes. They have uplifted our disheartened spirits and put into perspective that a different reality may not have to look so different at all. It is through these countless creative alternatives, just one click away, that the overwhelming feelings of heartache and alienation, turn into community and socialization.
Looking back at that moment, sitting on my couch, I remember quickly grabbing my phone and hitting the Facetime button. A wave of reassurance washed over me as my friend answered the call, and instantly that feeling of loneliness dissipated. I realized it may not have been the ideal way to fulfill this need for socialization. However, in that moment, it was one of the only ways.
The word “virtual” may call for an eye roll here and there, but its aid in bringing me closer to the people I couldn’t be and still can’t be close to right now, surely outweighs its annoying terminology. The unique ways that people have been virtually creating social environments shows me that the feeling of loneliness is a valid feeling, felt by many, especially due to the given circumstance we are all still finding ourselves in. But it also shows me that there is a world of people out there, combatting the same feeling of loneliness, by creating a sense of hope and community on a digital platform.
The next time you may find yourself in a place where solitude is taking away from your internal happiness, reach out to someone, join a class, talk to a friend, even if may be via virtual means. The power of community far exceeds an overwhelming sense of loneliness. A conversation over the phone may not be as fulfilling as a conversation in person, but it is leaps and bounds better than no conversation at all.
Written By: Carley Wright