I don’t know about y’all, but I’m tired of being part of a major historical event. Listen, if the lessons of history have taught us anything, it’s that no one learns the lessons that history teaches us. Then again, if you think you have it tough, try reading some history books. But seriously, who wants to feel secluded, sequestered, and hermit-like day in, day out. If there’s one thing isolation and lack of human affection does, it’s worsen the quality of our lives. I know, nothing saves money like being anti-social. What you lack in social skills you make up in “hiding from people” skills? I get it.
But there’s a king-size difference between choosing a quiet weekend with “jus the fam” and not socializing with friends or family for months on end. Despite how crazy it seems at times, connecting to the world keeps us balanced. Sharing good times with friends and loved ones is what creates those memorable photo albums full of smiley and silly emoji faces.
While attending the 75th Zoom class of the week, and chatting endlessly on the phone, provides a shot in the arm, it is a long ways from hugging or actually being with someone you care about or love. So you say you’re an anti-social butterfly. And there you are, binge-watching those shows again. Believe it or not, our brain’s mechanism is actually affected if we constantly stare at a screen or engage in social media. After checking out your umpteenth Instagram story, it may be hard to tell reality from fantasy.
Sometimes you think you want to simply disappear. But what you truly want is to be found, sweet friends. When I’m bored, nobody texts me. As soon as I’m busy, bam – still nobody texts me. Sigh. We humans are programmed to need warmth, calming, and comfort. You lost your glasses for the third time today but “poof” – there they are on top of your head. You found them, and your stress just disappeared. But what if you are looking for a meaningful relationship and simply can’t find the right mate or friend? You keep searching frantically, and eventually that loneliness can unsettle and even undo you.
Think about it. You are literally born into a group, and you spend your entire life as part of a community and society. Humans crave contact so deeply that they invented phones, telegraphs, and oh, yeah – the Internet. Shaking hands, hugging, or high-fiving your best friend not only makes you feel awesome, it lowers your cortisol levels and increases dopamine and oxytocin – that feel-good hormone that helps you attach and even trust other people.
Okay, maybe you’re a loner who used to get excited about canceled plans. You like long walks – away from everyone? How ‘bout now? Miss those class reunions? You know: where everyone gets together to see who’s falling apart.
There are boatloads of communal benefits to being around friends and loved ones. Who else will encourage you to run that extra mile, or challenge some of your life goals? Speaking of running…What’s that? The only running you do is chasing the ice cream truck? Your doctor told you that running adds years to your life. And you’re like: He was right. I feel ten years older already. Sheesh.
The truth is that even a die-hard introvert wants to know that someone will be there to get him through the rough times in life. Some of us may wish to spend time alone, enjoying our own company and getting to know ourselves, perhaps even developing inner strengths. But the last thing we need at this time are poor sleeping patterns, feelings of sadness and emptiness, and a disrupted immune system due to an unaddressed loss of contact or a sense of exile.
Never underestimate feeling a part of something larger than yourself. Life does have meaning and purpose. What have you done to raise your spirits lately? Volunteering or simply attending religious services reminds us that there is more to life than just distraction and entertainment. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, we all wish to feel wanted, included, and cared for. Just remember that caring, deeper relationships provide benefits that shallow ones simply cannot. You know what they say: “The shallower the brook, the more it babbles.” What have you done to deepen some of your relationships?
No need to party and inundate yourself with noise and stimulation. But please do cast your social net just a tad wider. Smile at a random person on the street. Gab about the weather. Speaking of which, my air conditioning is so quiet, I can barely hear how much it’s costing me. Share thoughts and feelings with close friends. Use some of your social energy to exchange views and ideas. Go deeper. Ask your friend to share something new she learned today. G’head and use up some of your social battery to have some pleasant chit-chat with the grocery store cashier. And let me tell you: You’ve got some pretty bad eating habits if you use a grocery cart in 7-Eleven. Heh.
True, socializing may make you happy, but over-socializing can make you anxious and exhausted. And let’s be honest. Sometimes you have to go out, just so you can appreciate staying in. Well, sweet friends, I tried to come up with a joke about social distancing. This is as close as I could get. Stay connected, please. This, too, shall pass.