Column: Remote socialization isn’t all bad

Logan Raschke

While the pandemic has physically separated us from others, it has forced everyone to connect in a different way: remotely.

While the sudden shift from in-person socialization to online was a hard one — one that millions, if not billions, of people grapple with to this day — a lot of users have had positive experiences.

A survey by Mozilla conducted in late April concluded that more than half of Americans are using video chat programs for work or socialization. Most of those Americans (85 percent) said they plan on using those programs after all COVID-19 lockdowns have ceased.

For many students, professors and employees, the preferred method may be D2L’s Collaborate, Zoom or Microsoft Teams, for example.

Besides professional socialization in a quarantined world, users are also utilizing other video chat apps such as FaceTime or Skype.

In addition to that, Facebook has Messenger, which allows users to video chat as well.

According to the same survey, Zoom (66 percent), FaceTime (48 percent) and Facebook Messenger (31 percent) are the most popular platforms for video chat.

And of these different programs, 73 percent of people surveyed said they use them to socialize with family and/or friends.

In addition to these video chat platforms, people from different parts of the world have socialized in some unusual ways to coincide with quarantine guidelines.

According to Polygon, some gamers played the new-at-the-time Nintendo Switch game “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for dates during the early months of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

As Polygon’s Patricia Hernandez reported, one user said she “bought a console specifically for a ‘New Horizons’ date.”

While face-to-face communication and interaction often reigns supreme regarding information comprehension between two or more people, it isn’t fair to say remote socialization has no merits.

For one, it’s obviously the safest way to communicate with others during a pandemic (so we really don’t have much of a choice).

But it also can promote socialization in a less stressful environment for some individuals — especially people who find it difficult or stressful to communicate in person.

The sudden shift from in-person, well, everything, to remote has also forced a lot of people to adapt to online communication programs. In turn, these same users are indirectly learning how to communicate online because, let’s face it, it’s a very different world (the buffering icon is my worst nemesis).

In some ways, socializing remotely can help people save money too. Where people were going out shopping or spending money during lunch or dinner dates, now they have the option to connect via video chat and cook at home with friends on the other line.

While remote socialization isn’t necessarily preferable to face-to-face communication, it certainly has its perks. It’s fun to find new ways of connecting with friends and family online, and if it can save us all some money in the process, it’s worth some praise until we can all safely go out together like we used to.

 

Logan Raschke is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]