The evolution of human beings has been a remarkable process. At the same time the evolution of communication has been equally striking. We have shifted our modes of communication from human borne (travelling long distances on foot) to animal borne messages (trained pigeons, horses, etc.) and eventually to wireless transmissions through texts, emails, phone calls. The importance of communication has always been acknowledged but ever since it has been readily available, we started forgetting the importance of communicating in person. This time in the pandemic and lockdown has proven to be ironic because social distancing has led to people becoming more connected through the domains of social media.
Communication at the moment is more important than it has ever been. With the lockdown getting extended, the need to stay in touch with our loved ones has become a necessity. Especially for the people living away from homes, or who are stuck in different countries other than their home country. We have been grateful to the internet and social media for a lot of things in the past but due to constantly available portals that can keep us in touch with our loved ones, we’ve become even more indebted to this platform. The individuals who are stuck in self isolation, the individuals who have not been able to leave their universities, the elderly people who have been quarantined, are all using social media as a platform to keep that connection with their respective families and friends.
Applications such as facetime, whatsapp and google hangouts have always been around but are being used now more than ever. There are several other social apps which are being brought to the forefront such as zoom, houseparty, Netflix party which people are using to spend quality time with friends as well as play games and keep each other entertained. Earlier, board games and movie nights could only be planned with people who were living together under one roof. These luxuries and feeling of connectedness can now be enjoyed from a distance as well. As much as interactions and maintaining social connections is vital for physical as well as mental health, there is a very thin line between staying in touch and being glued to the apps which are facilitating the connection.
In these dire times a lot of people have resorted to working from home, which can become quite taxing. Whereas certain people were in the middle of jobs or colleges. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day but different priorities. For certain people who don’t like using social media or connecting over calls, there are not many options available for them. Unfortunately they also have had to resort to video calls and phone calls. This time period could feel overwhelming for them because social connections are a basic need in everyone’s life hence they have to compromise their time to invest into maintaining relationships.
Similarly the elder members of the family have never used facebook, whatsapp and facetime too much but in times of need they have had to learn these interfaces to stay in touch with families.If one is not acclimated to social media, too much stimulus at once can become overbearing. It is important to keep in mind that the modes of communications and movement have been restricted. Being worried about the safety of each friend and family member is a very natural reflex, but the compulsion to constantly check in with family stay on facetime/ a video call is a choice. In these hours of need we can be available four our respective families through the calls and videos but they will have to learn to adapt to their own environment as well in order to get through the lockdown as smoothly as possible.
Seeking the privacy that we had in our lives before the lockdown is a relevant need of the hour. Constant phone calls, video calls can be draining, especially for the people who are working from home and are always on video conference calls.
Every call doesn’t have to be an hour long, in certain situations a text message can suffice. Voicing one’s comfort levels can contribute to setting more effective boundaries. A lot of clients at Karma have also been complaining about wasting their days on video calls with friends on houseparty or playing online board games. Keeping a track of the duration of the call will really help and scheduling the calls over the week will keep plenty of hours in the middle of the day free to pursue whatever the individual needs or enjoys.
Just like too much socialising and going out to places can lead to the individual taking some time off from socialising. Similarly too much time spent on video calls and phone calls can lead to a person switching their phones off or removing the social media apps. Which is an indication of too much exposure to social media.
Social distancing and staying inside the houses can be extremely daunting for a lot of people who are used to social interactions and meeting family and loved ones everyday. The entire dynamic of communicating and interaction has changed. It will take a while to get accustomed to it. Since we know the situation is temporary, that makes the transition even more difficult. Some of us are resorting to social media for interaction because we need to keep a check on that one friend/ relative who is living far away, some people need to find an outlet from the turbulence at home hence they resort to social media as a form of communication, everyone has their own reasons to give into this mode because we don’t have a plethora of options available.
Although it is a time grateful to be living in the generation which has allowed us easy access to telephones, cellphones, laptops and internet in almost every corner of the world, it is equally important to be cognizant of the role social media is playing in our lives. Agency to control the hours spent online and on calls should still be in our hands.