COVID, Social Media, and Loneliness

By Angelica V.

As I gaze at my boyfriend over FaceTime video chat, I sigh deeply and say “I miss you”. Seeing him over video chat is some semblance of small relief, but remains inadequate all the same. Ever since my COVID-19 diagnosis, I have been unable to see him in person, and the loneliness that has ensued during my quarantine is taking its toll.

I know that I am not alone in feeling lonely and isolated during this pandemic and that many others just like me find themselves stuck at home and experiencing anxiety and depression over what feels like some prolonged waking nightmare. People who already felt lonely before the virus hit are getting it even worse, their sentiments of loneliness building up to intolerable levels. Many people are turning to social media in order to deal with these feelings, but statistics seem to show that this outlet may not be enough.

Although virtual social gatherings have become commonplace, data indicates people still feel dissatisfied with the interaction they are getting through this medium. 48% of people say that these virtual gatherings failed to reduce their feelings of loneliness and 10% said that their feelings got even worse. This news is alarming, especially since loneliness over time is shown to lead to increased risk of death from all causes and increased morbidity in a variety of physical health outcomes. How are we supposed to mitigate these risks in the face of COVID-19? Below are some things I have learned from my personal experiences with loneliness during COVID-19 that may help to alleviate some of these feelings of loneliness.

Find at least one or two people to keep in regular touch with. When you have at least one or two people to talk to regularly and update about what’s going on with each other’s lives, the loneliness can be much easier to manage. Everyone needs to know they have someone there to talk to when they want, so find your person to talk to!

Discover creative ways of interacting over social media. Video chatting doesn’t have to get monotonous and repetitive! Try getting adventurous and taking a language class over Zoom, playing games with others through the Houseparty app, or joining a virtual book club. The possibilities are endless— there’s no need to limit social media to just regular conversation (although that’s great too!)

Learn to make peace with being more alone.  If you’re going to to be alone more often, it’s useful to take this time to get to know and love yourself better— after all, you will be in your own company for a long time! Examine the things you love about yourself and the things you would like to change. Making lists is helpful. Assess how you can accomplish goals you would like to achieve and set ways to reward yourself for achieving these goals.

Reach out— no matter what. The last thing you want to do when you feel lonely is self-isolate even more. Human beings are social creatures, therefore being social is a necessity for our happiness. Don’t close yourself off to social interaction; seek out connections through any means that you find possible, whether that be calling or video chatting with loved ones, reaching out on social media such as Facebook Groups, or giving a free chatting service such as Listen.One a chance.

If you feel isolated and lonely and are looking for someone to talk to try reaching out to Listen.One via text message at 602-786-8840 or email at hi@listen.one.

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