COLUMN: COVID-19, social media driving us further apart

Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2020

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By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

Lots of good things have come from social media. It is highly satisfying to reconnect with a good friend from your school days and catch up, or talk about days gone by. However, bad things have come from it as well—and I’m not just referring to the pointless political arguments or the never-ending stream of “TMI” posts from your friends. But also, because people have the option to reconnect through social media, it is much easier to substitute virtual interaction for the real thing.

I have an extended family member with whom I’ve tried to reconnect on Facebook for years, but they always seem too busy to meet in person, so our opportunities to reconnect are limited to our shared virtual experience.

Now, add COVID-19 on top of that. These days we are forced to meet virtually, more so than ever before. And I support that, because I’m an advocate for caution and safety during this pandemic. I’m afraid it is also affecting us in negative ways we cannot measure just yet—and the results might be irreversible.

It’s so strange to see kids standing or sitting apart from Santa to share their Christmas wish lists instead of sitting in his lap. I can’t help but to feel bad for them to have that lack of interaction.

But the real horror stories of COVID-19 come from those suffering alone in hospital rooms without any familiar faces or voices to comfort them. It is understandable why medical facilities have to regulate visitors, and I have much respect for those on the front lines, but it’s difficult to imagine being in that situation and dying apart from the presence of a loved one.

I’ve thankfully never had a major surgery or an illness that required a lengthy hospital stay, but I have often thought that when and if that occurs, I would have the comfort of loved ones there to make things better. Now, I don’t have that reassurance.

There is much speculation and wonder about what a post-pandemic world will look like. I think some good things will come from COVID-19; such as, perhaps we will be better prepared to handle a future pandemic. Perhaps we will also adopt practices that allow us to get sick less often.

But I hope our world is not all plexiglass, face shields and Zoom screens. I hope that when all this is over, we can retain a piece of the real world.