Social Isolation: the Effects of the Quarantine


You’re stuck at home, school is cancelled, and work is now online. You can’t really go outside that much and you’re basically socially isolated apart from your family. Sports, hobbies and major events are all cancelled, and you have nothing to do. While you still have online education that your school provides, with you being in your house all day, that can only be a one or two hour activity. So life becomes boring, resorting to staying on our personal electronics for hours, tuning off from the rest of our world, and you become utterly alone. What has been described is most likely the experience of many people, also cemented in their house due to the sudden outbreak of the Coronavirus. But why is this social distancing so hard, and why are us humans so dependent on social activity?

To begin, humans are very social creatures, we depend on each other to survive. Early humans were first hunter-gatherers, that worked in small communities to reach a common goal of surviving. Eventually, we got smarter, and began forming more and more complex societies. They used social interaction as a way to collectively learn about things that could help a community grow and develop. For example, a man learns how to catch a fish using a fishing rod. He would then tell it to his son, who would use that knowledge to learn even more about catching fish. His son would tell his offspring, who would repeat the cycle once again. This process is how humans learned together. First, expanding knowledge, preserving knowledge to someone who will expand it more, and building on past knowledge. This strategy allowed humans to become the most dominant species on the planet.

Because we are very social creatures, being stuck inside all day can be very challenging to people. The American Psychological Association states that long-term social isolation can have many negative results on a person. They state that it can be linked with depression, anxiety, insomnia, an underdeveloped brain, lack of immunities to diseases and infections, and underdeveloped lungs and heart. While none of these things can happen in just a period as long as the quarantine that we face today, it still shows why it’s so challenging for us.

But there are still ways to cope with temporary loneliness, such as calling or facetiming a friend. Or, you can bike or walk to a friend’s house and chat with them in person from the sidewalk while they stay on their porch, obeying social distancing guidelines. This is a very tough time for us all, but fortunately we have technology to stay social virtually and we are more resilient than we think.

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