Irreplaceable face-to-face interaction
ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - May 23, 2020 - 12:00am

Meetings, webinars (coined web and seminar), masses, and many other human activities are conducted where two or more parties are distant from one another. Distance can range from different cities, provinces, countries, or even continents, a common scenario and perhaps the normal mode of communication for the next weeks, months or years. No one knows. Although in the corporate and the academic world, such communication has been explored to facilitate faster flow of thoughts, breaking geographical barriers.

And in the time of pandemic, we are forced not to be closer to one another and so distant communication is becoming a way of life, occupying a big chunk of our communicative life.

While most of us are still interacting, most of those interactions are no longer in the flesh, but rather online. On Facebook, we may have 2,000 plus friends who constantly see and comment on the specifics of our private lives, but struggling to remember them first. The time it takes for us to type our messages out far outweighs the time we spend with other people. We think we're developing deep-rooted friendships and relationships when the opposite is true.

The way we work has also changed, leading to fewer professional human interactions than ever before. We once worked in an office surrounded by friends, five days a week. Operating at least part of the time from home, alone and separated from colleagues is now becoming normal.

For companies, for example, owners will try to get consumers to speak to each other, rather than be lost in their handheld devices. It is about building a social environment. We are a human contact vehicle; otherwise, it is merely a product.

As human beings, we always need and long for each other's closeness or proximity. As social animals, for encouragement, health and entertainment, we crave interaction with others. But with our lives becoming increasingly transient and dependent on digital devices, these basic interactions are under attack.

Human interaction with one another is critical for our mental health. Social interaction helps us deal with depression and the big changes in life. And realizing that other people respect us is a significant psychological element in making us forget about the negative aspects of our lives.

There is convincing evidence that it is also important for our physical health to consider human touch. There is evidence linking a low amount or consistency of social relations with a host of conditions including cardiovascular disease development and deterioration, repeated heart attacks, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, cancer, and slow wound healing.

A hearing impairment can sometimes lead to difficulty in participating fully in discussions at work, at home, and in social situations. This could lead to the removal from circumstances that prove too difficult. But in these situations, human contact is much more necessary, in order to prevent episodes of loneliness and depression.

The key to happiness for all of us is meeting new people and the connection that this brings for us. To explore and meet new people, to extend our horizons. It's about the interaction with people that brings joy and satisfaction.

Nothing compares to living in real communities and spending actual physical time with the people we love. In this pandemic, the most important thing for survival is communication with someone, recognizing our presence and importance as human beings. My personal reminder: I’m always more satisfied by human interaction than by a digital connection.

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