Friendship: How the Pandemic’s Effects have Changed the Ways We Interact

The pandemic has caused the way we interact with one another and form friendships to change drastically. The social isolation we all experienced during lockdown in the Spring has caused many to change their friendship habits. 

According to a BBC article entitled “New research suggests lockdowns are re-shaping our social networks. What does that mean for our post-Covid relationships?,” 2 out of three Americans felt lonely during lockdown in the Spring. The article looks at how post-lockdown friendships and “friendship networks” in Australia have changed.

With the pandemic and lockdown, a more conscious effort must be made to stay in touch with people. Who we choose to stay in touch with and how that compares to who we chose to stay in touch with before the pandemic is where it gets interesting. As we discussed in class, it’s almost been easier to stay in touch with friends who live further away than those who live in the same state. According to the aforementioned BBC article, “Once the local or community context of a relationship was taken away, it was relationships where those in it had something in common besides their shared work or hobby interest, where everyone felt comfortable with digital technology, that managed to hold together or become stronger. Many wanted to share their pandemic stress with those to whom they felt closest; old friends from home towns and very close local friends.”

Another aspect of friendship that has changed with the pandemic is our casual interactions. While some people might not be considered close friends, the interactions with them before a class or at a happenstance meeting are still valuable and something to be missed. Roger Patulny, an Australian interviewed for the BBC article, says: “The ability to just stop, gossip, laugh, joke and all the things that you do outside the meetings – that doesn’t happen when you are meeting online. […] The extra peripheral contact has been lost, and that’s an important loss.” 

While so much of friendship has changed with the pandemic, we have been presented with new opportunities to create connections, communicate with others, and maintain relationships.

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