Staying Connected when Socially Distanced
Distanced, but never alone.
By Hannah Lamberg | April 13, 2020
The concept of being isolated may seem peaceful and freeing at first glance. I mean-- how often have I been so busy with work and school that I needed a few days to go off the grid and just have some “me time.” Unfortunately, though, this concept of social distancing is actually much more challenging for humans than it seems. Humans are a species that thrive and function from social interactions, as many people seek validation, connection, and advice from others in their life whether it be co-workers, friends, family, or even strangers. In times like the present that require communities to practice social distancing, it is imperative that we work together to maintain interpersonal connection via digital platforms. Years ago, this would not be possible as technology was not up-to-speed; however, today, it is possible to maintain relationships while still safely practicing social distancing.
Keep Traditions Alive Virtually
One significant aspect of social distancing to remember is that while it seems like it will last forever, it will not. It is important to try to keep life as “normal” as possible. By doing this, quarantining will not seem as lonely or disconnected from a typical day in which everything is in its place. One way that I recommend implementing this strategy includes brainstorming any recurring social interactions that are typically in your schedule. For example, two of my closest friends and I have been having a “Girls’ Night,” comprised of dinner every Monday night after a club meeting. While social distancing makes meeting in-person a challenge, it is important to recreate these events via video-chat whenever possible. It is understandable that schedules will change once all aspects of your life are altered and thrown awry, yet traditions can be amended to fit these new changes. Tonight, my friends and I are having our “Girls’ Night” through a Facebook video-call. I realized that my happiness and equilibrium need to be maintained in these tricky times and for me, as an extrovert, social interaction is necessary for my well-being. Because of this, I posed the idea of a virtual night to chat and have a drink over the camera. This way, I can still be connected while away from my closest friends.
Make Class or Work Mean More
Another way to stay connected while social distancing can be to spice up your typical schedule to help make indoor life more eventful. This can simply be decorating the area where you will be studying and/or working. Set and setting are extremely important for a person’s mental state, which basically refers to the idea that a funky environment can add some spunk to your reading or client emailing. For myself, I tend to have trouble focusing and getting in the correct mindset for work without access to my favorite library in the area, so practicing social distancing has been particularly challenging for my professional life. Because of this, I had to get creative in ways to associate online curriculum with a strong desire to allot study time. Specifically, one of my professors for an advanced literature seminar stays on the Zoom platform for an extra thirty minutes or so after the official class time and a few students, including myself, stay online and chat about our lives outside of school. It was discussed that the class should organize a virtual talent show or a cooking party to make the distance less potent. The next day, my professor sent out an email with the recipe for something his daughter had made the night before, which made the online learning platform more entertaining for my classmates and I. By expanding the connotation of online learning to mean something more than just online school, we were able to make the quarantine more bearable.
It is possible to stay connected despite the distance, and it is important to remember this and to try to normalize social interaction as much as possible. Technology allows people to connect at a distance, so why should we let physical distance increase the distance between our connections? Answer: we should not.
University of Florida
Hannah Lamberg is a fourth-year student at the University of Florida pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology on a Pre-law track. She is very involved on her campus as a U Matter We Care Ambassador and Public Relations Coordinator within the Dean of Students’ Office, as well as involved on the leadership boards of the English Society and Relay for Life at UF. She now works as a Student Brand Ambassador at Macmillan Learning. You can most likely find her talking to new people or writing poetry in her free time.