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Love in the Time of Corona: Rethinking Social Media and Connection in the Face of COVID-19

Updated: Mar 24

Written on 3/18/2020



Humans are social beings by nature. We all know this to be true. In light of recent developments (looking at you, COVID-19), however, there arise some vital questions about how to conduct social interaction in these changing times. Naturally, this vital issue doesn’t seem so vitally important as most of us are fighting to address immediate demands and are facing very real fallout. And yet, the question of social connection remains. We will all have to face it as the situation develops and we are forced to adapt our lifestyles under the changing circumstances.


Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki, director of Stanford’s Social Neuroscience Lab, makes the argument that “…the same technologies that people once blamed for tearing our society apart might be our best chance of staying together during the COVID-19 outbreak.” In the face of social distancing we must explore ways to counteract the emotional alienation that comes from physical separation. If physical distancing is going to become more deeply woven into our daily lives, even if only for a few months, it is our responsibility to imagine and pursue alternative means of socialization, both for ourselves and our children. We cannot afford to ignore this fundamental aspect of what it means to be human.


I have been feeling alone in a different way this week, hanging out here at home with my two cats while my fiancé, who works in the restaurant industry, has been (understandably) consumed with trying to adapt to the recent restaurant restrictions. Just me, the two cats (Fuzzy and Obi), and my little bottle of foaming hand sanitizer that smells like a long-lost Bath and Body Works scent from my youth. I have done the deep cleaning and organizing I had been avoiding over the past few weeks. The only item I have been able to effectively avoid is the completion and publication of the website for Artopiatogo, which should give you some insight into my relationship with the worldwide web and social media.


In the spirit of complete transparency, I must admit that I have been a social media skeptic for the past decade. I have kept my distance from Facebook and have lightly dabbled at different times with Snapchat and Instagram. I have long held the conviction that there is something alienating and antisocial about social media, I wasn't quite at ease with it. Today, however, I am forced to question my beliefs.


I left my wonderful job as a Montessori guide at the end of last school year to explore how to use art to create connection and support human development. Artopiatogo was set to launch at a local festival scheduled for April 4th. Naturally, like so many other gatherings, the festival has been cancelled. Now I have an unexpected, unique, and personally daunting opportunity to help people stay connected by making Artopiatogo virtual. This will allow me to reach an even wider audience and meet your everyday creative needs in these not so everyday times.


Our social traditions and practices will persist regardless of what happens with COVID-19, the question is how will they evolve in light of distance socialization. There will still be birthdays—how will we celebrate them? People will always be eager to share inspiration in a group setting—where will they meet? How can we move forward and envision our lives and lifestyles in the context of the changes brought on by this pandemic? Let ArtyPants and Artopiatogo be there for you and your family as we navigate the “new normal” together.



Yours in Art and Life,

ArtyPants






Further Reading for This Post

Take a deeper dive starting with these reads! Please share any additional articles or resources that have resonated with you during this time.

https://news.stanford.edu/2020/03/19/try-distant-socializing-instead/


https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/oct/18/sherry-turkle-not-anti-technology-pro-conversation


https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/19/coronavirus-effect-economy-life-society-analysis-covid-135579



Questions for Discussion

  • How does each of the articles I've shared make you feel? Do you prefer one over the others? How do you feel about the reality of our current situation? Do you feel like you are able to articulate how you feel and share it in a healthy way with your family and friends?


  • Which of the 34 proposed societal changes found in the Politico article do you find most compelling and why? Which ones are the most troubling and why? Please share your own perspective and thoughts. Do you think it is helpful to direct our energy to such thoughts?


  • What are your personal thoughts on social media and human connection? Has there been a time when you felt compelled to question your beliefs about social media?



Craft Skill Challenge of the Day: Look Ma, No Needles!

  • Teach yourself to finger knit! Challenge the people around you to do it. Share your stories and pictures! This is simpler than you might realize. All you need is your hand and a small ball of yarn. See how long it takes you to master it. You can knit on one finger, two fingers, three fingers, and four fingers. There's even arm knitting...just saying....let me know if you would like me to share some basic resources.


Further Afield

While we are on the topic of knitting...I highly suggest you explore the magical world of yarn bombing. It's basically pretty graffiti you can remove with scissors. Happy googling. :)


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