In a world gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, governments are asking people to stay home and some have even made it compulsory for citizens to isolate themselves; however, the quarantine has affected social relations.
Everywhere there is talk of medical advice, and social communication is forgotten in the context of social distancing. Sociologists say the discipline is concerned with building relationships and linking individuals, while now everyone emphasises that these bonds must be cut; however, this may lead to further isolation.
Amir Hossein Jalali, a psychiatrist, and Abbas Kazemi, a sociologist of culture, are two Iranian experts who have examined the negative impacts of reduced communication in the current situation and offered solutions.
According to a report by Shahrvand daily newspaper, Abbas Kazemi believes social sciences are facing a new discourse in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. The concern of this field has always been the connection of people and their relationship with each other, but suddenly they are faced with a discourse that asks people to be alone and observe social distancing. However, after the criticisms, it was announced that the term “social distancing” should be replaced by “physical distancing”.
“According to health and medical protocols, people are being asked to distance themselves from others, while sociologists and psychologists are aware of the negative consequences of loneliness and isolation,” added Kazemi.
Loneliness in English has different meanings and one of them has a negative meaning. Some say this distancing and the severance of social relations is a good thing, asserting that it forces them to think more about themselves, but this is not how sociology defines loneliness.
“In sociology, it is stressed that many of people’s personal issues are addressed in relation to the society,” says Kazemi, adding that human beings develop via communications. Under these circumstances, the capacities of online and virtual life must be used to get closer to the real space.
Dire Psychological, Social Consequences of Corona
“I read a report in the New York Times saying that we are constantly being told to disinfect, to wear masks, and so on, but there are no written protocols to tell people how to communicate with each other,” continued Kazemi.
Perhaps at the beginning of the quarantine, people even felt good and satisfied that they were not going to work and that they were clearing the backlogs of work. Most of them were happy to spend time with the family, but when it lingers on, it becomes annoying. People get bored and the normal routine of life is disrupted.
According to Kazemi, with the continuation of this process, social skills will be forgotten and people will run out of patience. After the end of the Corona pandemic, the consequences will befall us. Therefore, the communications must be redefined without compromising our health.
Jalali, a psychiatrist, says that before quarantine, the issue of people and their communication on social media was raised. It was said that this kind of relationship has made people lonelier, and now the quarantine has legitimized this issue!
According to psychologists and analytical psychiatrists, when we are faced with a problem that we cannot solve, we isolate ourselves and do not address it.
As Jalali says, in the current situation, people are officially isolating themselves. The quarantine has prevented us from confronting the conflicts we have to face, that is, mental growth and vitality. As this process continues, we become a greenhouse plant that must eventually return to the society. So we should not be so weak that if the wind blows on our stems we break apart.
He believes that our calm during the quarantine period cannot a be positive thing. People may even say why life should not be like this and always work from home. Raising this issue can be worrying. According to him, at first, the quarantine was something against the accelerating flow of life and slowed down the process of life. It was fun in the beginning. But we can’t be away from social atmosphere all through the year.
Compromise with Corona
Explaining this point, Kazemi emphasizes that quarantine can be enjoyable when it is under the control of humans. That is, the individual voluntarily distances himself from society in order to discover himself. But it can be scary when it is coupled with psychological pressure and stress. Therefore, given the current situation and the continuation of this process, we have no choice but to compromise with it.
Social Media Can’t Replace Real Socialising
The two experts went on to refer to the effectiveness of social media. Jalali believes that without virtual networks and the modern type of communication, the extent of damage during quarantine would have increased. However, it should not become a routine way of socialising.
“Physical communication is the source of communication excitement,” says Kazemi, adding that we need to look for ways to minimise the harm of being in the cyberspace and make the most of the simulation with the real world.
“Emotions are not conveyed through written communication, and body sounds, looks, and movements are eliminated. So we have to try to use verbal relationships in this space,” he maintained.
Respect for Privacy in Family
Kazemi says going out of the house often helps people’s relationships and prevents many conflicts. According to media reports, the number of disputes and tensions has increased among families in the current situation.
Jalali also refers to the polls conducted by the Tehran Municipality on this issue. According to him, based on the results of this poll, 16% of the families reported tension within the family during this period, 50 percent of which was related to the differences between the couples and the rest was regarding the differences between the parents and children.
“In the current situation, family members must respect the privacy of people at certain times of the day. This can have some of the effects of going out. Of course, couples with major problems need the help of social support services,” concludes Kazemi.