It’s important to stay virtually connected to people during this time. Here’s why.

Mackenzie Bill, columnist

I am an extrovert. I love being surrounded by people I care about, and I always enjoy the company of others. Although going to school may not always appeal to me, I can always look forward to seeing my friends. People energize me and make me feel like a valued part of my community. 

COVID-19 has changed almost all aspects of our everyday life, especially the interactions between one another. Considering how rapid COVID-19 is spreading, it’s extremely important to distance oneself physically to stay in good health. But it’s also essential to make social contact by reaching out to those you care about. 

This time of uncertainty is a way to utilize technology to communicate with others. There are various ways to reach out like calling, texting, or FaceTiming. Talking in groups is also something that can strengthen a sense of community. I have recently gone on Zoom to meet with my church youth group and it was a great opportunity to talk to peers who I usually see outside of school. 

Trying a new way of communication can add some creativity to your life as well. The past week I have been handwriting letters to my friends and family. It’s so gratifying to receive a letter in the mail, and I find that it shows me how much someone cares. Reaching out in different ways can build meaningful relationships with family and friends.

Spending time with family is also a way to be social. Many nights after dinner my family has played a board game, tried improv or worked on a puzzle. These kinds of interactions make me feel closer to those who I know the best.

I additionally found that reaching out to others outside of my immediate family and close friends is valuable. It’s easier to talk to friends I’ve started to drift away from through technology, rather than in environments like school. The busy routine of the school week can make it difficult to talk to drifting friends, but with the change in the schedule, there’s more time to reach out to them. Connecting with peers you’re drifting from is a significant way to expand friendships. 

As E-learning progresses, it’s even more crucial to reach out to peers in order to support South’s community. I have built many long-lasting relationships with the members of South, and I hope to still connect with them even without physically attending school. Socialization during this crisis helps people relate to one another through sharing experiences and feelings.

Caring for others also presents the opportunity to care for ourselves. Scott Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut who spent 520 days on the International Space Station, explained that isolation can be damaging to our immune systems, so virtually reaching out to others can benefit our own health while we’re social distancing.

“Technology makes it easier than ever to keep in touch, so it’s worth making time to connect with someone every day,” Kelly said. “It might actually help you fight off viruses.” 

I empathize with those who have been struggling with this social shift. Many times while talking to a friend over Facetime I’ve still felt a lack of connection because of the physical isolation. I have never gone through this experience before, and it brings me feelings of anxiety and confusion. This is an incredibly disorienting time, and it can be easy to pull away from those we care about and isolate ourselves. But I am comforted by the fact that everyone is going through this time of change together. We can support each other in this difficult time. 

COVID-19 impacts nearly every aspect of our lives, so it’s important to connect with people that make us feel safe and happy.  In times of crisis, reaching out to others is a positive way to reduce loneliness and socialize for the benefits of our own health.