Coronavirus will break our social bonds
Fear of contagion will mean we retreat from other humans, and seek refuge evermore online. Human interactions will increasingly take place online.
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The NHS is talking about a target of 50% of GP (general practitioner) appointments being held over the phone, app, or video. There’s a government initiative with supermarkets to introduce shop-by-phone for elderly people who don’t trust the internet when it comes to ordering groceries. The fear of COVID-19 is quickly transforming the way we interact with people, and in-person meetings are increasingly being replaced by digital ones. As we avoid contact with humans, we will retreat ever more into our digital identities. As people began social distancing and governments placed citizens under lockdown, the number of people actively using social media and the internet catapulted. AT&T witnessed a 31% increase in month-to-month increase in network traffic in March alone. Furthermore, all in-school instruction and most jobs were replaced with online substitutes. Even hangouts and daily communication were enabled through different apps. All of these changes lead to a fundamental change in the way people thought about their day-to-day habits. People of all ages started to think that they can live out their daily lives through the internet alone. People's self-identities and digital identities became entwined and online started to feel the same as off-line. While this could be great for businesses or workplaces, this will have detrimental impacts on individuals and society.
The issue of COVID-19 eradicating social bonds is a wild idea that is completely out of touch with reality. Although more workplaces began to implement digital meetings and people increasingly relied on social media or other diagnostic technology during the pandemic, these do not mark an end to social bonds. Even before COVID-19, people relied on such technology due to its efficiency, and improvements in such technology will naturally attract more users. In states such as New York and California, where lockdown measures were recently lifted due to safer conditions, people went out to restaurants, beaches, and other public spaces. It shows that individuals, in most places, are eagerly waiting for a chance to venture out again. If anything, COVID-19 increased people's awareness of the importance of socializing and relationships.