What the pandemic made me relearn about social bonds

The corona pandemic has showed everyone the importance of our social lives. I relearned that we suffer when alone, the importance of touch, how essential non-verbal communication is, and that working online is good, but limited.

What the pandemic made me relearn about social bonds

The social restrictions chosen or forced upon most of us have brought things in to perspective. A lot of people who never struggled with social issues were also confronted with the importance of relationships.

There's always a basic social human dimension that won't change until we become cyborgs. We need each other. In absence of friends, family or basic human contact we're stressed. (Sure, as an introvert you need less contact, but you still need some connections.) That's why the largest social isolation experiment in history served a few important reminders:

  1. Without friends and family we suffer
  2. Touch is important
  3. Covering your face takes away a big part of communication
  4. Working online is good, but limited (dm and meetings)

1. Without friends and family we suffer

Some of you guys already suffer from having few friends. But lots of people in the world were introduced to a life were socializing was impossible. It freaked a lot of people out. Without the socializing we hairless monkeys need - we're out of place. Lonely and depressed. A point brought home by the lockdowns.

An important reminder why I like to help people make friends and socialize easily, even when there are no global viruses roaming the plains.

2. Touch is important

After a few weeks of lockdown, our Dutch media outlets started talking about 'huidhonger' - literally translated as 'skin hunger'. Weird! Doesn't mean you want to eat skin - but a desire to touch someone else. To have skin to skin contact.

You want to feel that high five, caress or awesome hug. But touch deprivation left people feeling even more lonely. Touch is a normal part of life. It reinforces our bonds, releases feel good hormones, and it just feels nice.

3. Covering your face takes away a big part of communication

As I've mentioned before - non-verbal communication is pretty significant. I've focused on eye contact. But honestly - without the mouth to give nuance, it is very hard to read people. That is unfortunately what masks took away. A very important facet of communication. Is someone smiling? Sneering? You can guess a bit using the eyes and tone of voice. But your entire face is needed for a good connection.  

4. Working online is good, but limited

Sure, meeting people was less stressful than ever. Besides, it is proven that we can do a lot of work online. Lots of meetings and small get-togethers are great over video. But they are limited. There is always a small lag. You can poorly read the room. And synchronizing with others during creative sessions is almost impossible.

Video calls are great for rational, businesslike talks. But if it gets even close to building relationships or creativity it is limited. Besides, your brain has to constantly adjust to a lack of non-verbal cues and a small lag. It's exhausting.

I've loved using video for work and D&D, and will keep using it. But I will definitely need IRL meetings again for more intimate play and work.