Humans are social beings. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, we are all beings that seek community for our interests, our pain, and our goals because finding community is connected to our identity. I’m reminded of the year I was transitioning to 7th grade, and my mother challenged me to decide which hobby I wanted to dedicate more of my time (and her time) to, dance or basketball. I immediately thought of where most of my friends were, and I decided that basketball would take more of my time. After that, my identity was basketball player and my community was my middle school’s basketball team for the next 2 years. Adults easily forget that feeling of a found belonging during adolescence.
Over the years, I have read about loneliness growing into a public health risk, and the effects of loneliness are said to be even greater for much younger individuals which are those that are traditionally expected to have the luxury of time to socialize. If the affect of loneliness is this great while we all move about our daily lives, I can only imagine what we are all experiencing being snatched away from our routines. I believe that while convenient, technology should always be viewed as a supplement to our interactions with one another. Furthermore, social skills are exactly what they say they are; skills. How could we learn more about ourselves and the people and the world around us if we are restricted to socialization via Zoom? How can our children and future generations build the social skills needed to thrive if they are stuck behind a screen?
Whenever we hug, cuddle, or hold hands with one another, hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin are released by our brain. These hormones are often referred to as “feel good” hormones because they induce feelings of happiness and safety within us. It is not just our various communities or social skills that are at stake. The issue that concerns me the absolute most is our health. Who is there to hug or give a warm smile to those that are isolated at this time? Can socialization across screens truly replace a warm embrace? Collective writing projects are a form of community that is very much important in uniting like-minded individuals, however, they cannot replace the communities that are living because of the people who make them. Devices cannot breathe.