For the last few days, I’ve been thinking about the meaning of friendship, before, during, and after the Covid-19 era. Some insights come from the television series I’ve been watching on Netflix (Never Have I Ever and Fate: The Winx Saga), some come from books (one of them I will post below), and mostly from my own experience and what some people tell me about their own experiences on friendship.
My first big assumption is that people will get lonely when they are isolated (forced isolation for sure due to virus contraction, fear of being infected, and because of the government’s restriction on mobility) and kept their face-to-face interaction at a very minimum level.
But here, after reading this book, Friendship in The Age of Loneliness: An Optimist’s Guide to Connection, authored by Adam Smiley Poswolsky, and Published by Running Press [an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; first edition May 2021]
especially referring to these three quotations:
1) “Being forced into isolation has made it abundantly clear how much we mean to each other, and how much we need each other,” observed Kat Vellos, friendship expert and author of We Should Get Together. “People are reaching out and offering support to each other in ways that would never have just spontaneously happened while everyone was rushing around living their normal lives. What is emerging now are: openness, generosity, slowing down, valuing each other, and valuing life.”
2) The pandemic demonstrated the true power of friendship to sustain us through everything life throws at us. We bore witness to why human interaction is essential to our health and well-being. During quarantine, I often heard people say, “I see more of my friends’ faces now than before quarantine. We really should have these reunions more often when non-Zoom life resumes.”
3) Contrary to expectations that COVID-19 would make us even lonelier, a comprehensive study published in the journal American Psychologist actually found that social distancing protocols and stay-at-home orders did not lead to an increase in loneliness among Americans. Researchers found resilience, not loneliness, in their nationwide research. “Contrary to this fear, we found that overall loneliness did not increase,” said Martina Luchetti, an assistant professor at the Florida State University College of Medicine and lead author of the study. “Instead, people felt more supported by others than before the pandemic. Even while physically isolated, the feeling of increased social support and of being in this together may help limit increases in loneliness.” The legacy of COVID-19 will certainly include an incalculable loss of human life, a strain on public health, widespread economic hardship, and an awakening to the deep structural inequalities in our society. However, I’m hopeful that this time will also serve as a reminder of what matters most: our interconnectedness. That we can’t afford to take our people or our planet for granted. That our existence is not guaranteed. That we won’t survive without looking out for one another.
I come to realize some insightful ideas on friendship as I am living up to today.
My own commentary on the above quotations runs as simple as this:
Now, when we are no longer shrouded in fear of getting Covid and dying instantly, thanks to vaccines and many other shields we got about how to deal with the virus, the “call for WFO” speaks louder than our lame excuse on staying WFH, do we get back to our old habits of “bossing around,” always in a hurry and seemingly out of reach (sok sibuk), toying around with the instrumental reason (friends with benefits and friends incurring loss) when interacting with and treating our friends, and stick to budget and own plan rather than generously sharing our time and optimism with others less fortunate?
My suggestion is this: Let’s keep the Covid-bonding-friendship experience alive!