DUDLEY – Communication is very important, even more so during the COVID-19 crisis a local expert says.
Communicating with each other physically and not seeing family members, friends, romantic partners, can be mentally challenging. However, during these tough times of social distancing to help keep COVID-19 at bay, staying connected through social media is important.
“Face-to-face is the ‘richest’ form of communication because we get the most verbal and nonverbal cues. I think that’s why you’re seeing so many ‘drive-by’ greetings,” said Dr. Jean Beaupre, Communications and Marketing professor and Communications Program Chair at Nichols College. “Since we can’t meet most people face-to-face right now, video chatting is the next best thing since you can see each other.”
Beaupre added, “Barring that, many forms of social media offer other ways of expressing emotion beyond just words like emojis and filters. Mostly, I think regular, consistent communication is most important to keep our social threads intact and get the most out of our relationships at a time when we need them most.”
Keeping in contact with others in the middle of this pandemic will strengthen relationships and may make people feel less lonely. It’s important not to overuse social media, however staying informed about what is going on, and maintaining relationships is essential.
Social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are helpful for news and staying connected. While using Facebook Messenger, Zoom, FaceTime, and Snapchat can be useful for physically and mentally connecting with loved ones while distancing. Birthdays, social hangouts, classes, meetings, events, and even family dinners are celebrated over apps such as Zoom and FaceTime.
“Relationships can be weakened through lack of contact. But on the other hand, I think this situation is highlighting the value of relationships. From what I have seen, people are recognizing how important connections are, and that they take a bit of work and care to maintain. You’re also seeing more people reaching out to those they haven’t connected with in a while,” said Beaupre.
While we are seeing a lot of people connecting with others more than ever in this time, it’s important coming out of this we have a different view of our relationships and how we communicate than we did before.
“I would like to think that, at least for the near term, we will be more appreciative of our relationships. They say ‘The grass is always greener on the other side.’ Now most of us are being given that opportunity of staying home, and of course we miss what we don’t have — the ability to go out and do things and see people. As a result of not being, the things we do have — our homes, our circles of family and friends — are being treasured,” Beaupre said.
Connecting with others during COVID-19 is not only important for our mental health, but also for others. It may be very stressful to not see loved ones at this time and relationships may be tested, however, communication through various forms social media will help us feel less isolated and a part of things.
Beaupre said, “I believe for a little while we will not take our family and friends for granted and will have a heightened awareness of how important human connection is.”