The surgeon and author Atul Gawande says, “Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic head injury. ” That’s not of course a cure for COVID-19, but meaningful relationships can help us get through this hard time.
And even in a time of crisis, deep, real social interaction is possible. “A rising tide can indeed lift a variety of boats,” John Cacioppo and William Patrick write in the book Loneliness, “but in a culture of social isolates, atomized by social and economic upheaval and separated by vast inequalities, it can also cause millions to drown.
When I started to make social interaction a focal point, I scheduled at least three or four dates with friends, just as I made sure I worked out several times a week.
And even in a time of crisis, deep, real social interaction is possible.
I was spending fewer nights tweeting and posting on social media, and I was also feeling happier, less stressed, and less pressed for time.
That’s one of dozens of reasons we are so vulnerable to the coronavirus now, when our social networks are weak, 43% of Americans have only one or no close friends, and there is profound mistrust among us.