In a world where we can all connect virtually, 24 hours per day, many of us still find ourselves longing for meaningful connections. Of course, the year-long COVID-19 pandemic’s imposed isolation has only heightened our desire for interaction with others.
After all, we’re social by our very nature. It’s unnatural to have so much of our social interactions occur virtually (the irony is not lost on me, i.e., that I’m writing these very words to be shared online, rather than in person).
One year into this pandemic, many of us are struggling with extreme loneliness. We might have a day packed with Zoom calls, since so many of us continue to work virtually. Nevertheless, we remain lonely.
Gone is the water cooler banter that we previously took for granted as we went about our workday. I conduct many online counseling sessions per week, and I’ll soon be expanding my clinical practice. I see so many clients who are experiencing depression, in part due to feeling cut off from others.
Nearly everyone hopes for a return to normal, of course. Widespread vaccination will greatly accelerate this transition. Until that time, we can demonstrate our concern for others by continuing to wear masks, socially distancing, and washing our hands frequently.
As a clinical psychologist, I regularly meet with men and women who feel distressed about their lack of in-person interaction. I try to validate their reactions as a normal response to an unprecedented situation, a global pandemic.
When a semblance of normality is finally achieved, let’s hope that we no longer take face-to-face interactions for granted, nor the healing powers of a long hug. We truly need each other to thrive.