Spring 2020 is a period in human history that is going to be a subject for intense discussion for some time. The Coronavirus outbreak has been an unprecedented situation, with governments enacting different precautions across the glove, including lockdowns. Paradoxically, social isolation has also drawn people together, uniting them in adversity.
Many have been advised to work from home wherever possible. With sporting events, bars, nightclubs, and cinemas off-limits, people are having to turn to social media for interaction and leisure pursuits. So Internet use, particularly social media, has spiraled in recent weeks. But how has all this virtual activity affected social relationships?
Social media has been boosted
The Coronavirus situation has made social distancing the norm. Out of necessity, we are having to immerse ourselves in the virtual world to keep in contact with family, friends, work colleagues, and prospective partners. This has led to a rise in social media engagement. Individuals can use Facebook to touch base with friends, perhaps using the increased hours of isolation to take the opportunity to chat with people outwith their normal circle. You might decide to look up former schoolfriends; in some cases, catch up with old flames. In a few instances, this has led to strains being placed on current relationships when a partner is discovered spending unhealthy periods sending direct messages to someone they were once intimate with.
Instagram has flourished in the present climate because this visual medium is the perfect platform for site users to engage. Rather than jotting their experiences down in lengthy text posts, they can take advantage of that familiar adage about a picture being worth a thousand words. From every corner of the globe, people are documenting their experience of Coronavirus, publishing images of themselves, their social group, their neighborhood. Anyone looking these up can comment, upload pictures of their own. As each conversation starts, there is a potential for new relationships to be forged as people take the time to empathize with the people behind these Instagram stories.
Relationships are forming more quickly
Online dating is another area where the Coronavirus epidemic has prompted a more intense level of online communication. 30% of U.S. adults say they have used a dating site or app. More and more people are choosing dating sites like this to sign up to when it comes to searching for an ideal partner, Where singles would once have been content to casually browse through the database of potential partners, taking their time getting to know a prospective love interest, social distancing has had the effect of sharpening focus. If anyone is feeling anxious about what is going on outside their home, given the unreal situation of wearing face masks simply to go shopping and so on, it would be natural for a sense of unease to permeate in other areas. Rather than being relaxed about online dating, relationships might be forged with a hint of desperation.
Some relationships have been adversely affected
There are always two sides to the way the Internet can touch lives and impact relationships. Social media has instigated a whirlwind of activity, with the increased leisure time leading to all manner of positive engagement. On the other hand, the Coronavirus situation has had a detrimental effect. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat can certainly bring people together, but the present crisis is also exacerbating the worst aspects of these platforms. Some users, with unprecedented lengths of spare time on their hands, are liable to indulge in those longstanding negative traits – trolling and cyberbullying. Site users who are spending much longer on social media than they ever have before might succumb to self-esteem issues. As some use the lockdown as an excuse to post boastful (and sometimes Photoshopped) images of themselves, body awareness issues will arise. Isolated individuals are bound to feel even more cut off from society if they gain the impression of being ostracized from the online community.
Cut off from the normal outlets where people would have socialized, relationships have had to adapt. Social media platforms themselves, always inventive when it comes to dreaming up and releasing games and software for their site users, have stepped up to the plate by offering the chance to participate in different ways. Video chatting software is an obvious example of the way social media is allowing individuals to cope with the global situation. If you can’t meet face-to-face, the next best thing is to schedule meetings where all you need is a webcam. At the click of a few links, you could be interacting with a potential love interest in a different city or even country. This isn’t just a one-on-one thing either. Video conference calls have been a staple of business for years, but now friends can routinely organize a zoom gathering, complete with party games and refreshments. Again, this is bringing people together who wouldn’t necessarily have been in such regular dialogue, ensure social relationships continue to flourish. The downside is that this whole process can become addictive, with individuals sometimes finding it difficult to disengage and go back to their ‘normal’ daily interaction.
People are getting even more choosy
Site users are liable to be warier of someone’s background if they are coming across them in their web browser for the first time. If the early 1980s were characterized by singles fretting about the AIDS epidemic, the modern equivalent will be a whole new set of questions arising as couples are getting to know each other. Have you been exposed to COVID? Any of your family or friends? What precautions did you take when the infection was at its peak?
Hopefully, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel as far as discovering a universal cure is concerned. Until then, relationships will face the effects of these traumatic times.