The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in protracted social isolation across the globe due to the implementation of social distancing to limit the transmission of the virus. People have relied overwhelmingly on digital technology/social media to manage physical distancing while maintaining social connection, resulting in concerns about loneliness and technology’s impacts during isolation. Cairns worked with students from her undergraduate methods course to research people’s experiences related to COVID-19 and their connection strategies during isolation. The study served multiple purposes, including (1) providing academic insight into the variety of experiences with social isolation as well as technologies/platforms for connecting during COVID-19, including those technologies used in the classroom, (2) encouraging students to explore and discuss what they were facing during the pandemic, and (3) providing creative anthropological research methods training during a time of social isolation for students. This work finds that COVID-19 has fundamentally re-contextualized the relationships between people, technology, and loneliness. While individual experiences during COVID-19 are nuanced, technology served to facilitate connections and provided opportunities for new modes of interaction and meaningful relationship-building during the pandemic. This work also informs future pedagogical approaches to teaching during times of crisis and/or at a distance.
COVID-19 and Human Connection: Collaborative Research on Loneliness and Online Worlds from a Socially-Distanced Academy
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Maryann R. Cairns, Margaret Ebinger, Chanel Stinson, Jason Jordan; COVID-19 and Human Connection: Collaborative Research on Loneliness and Online Worlds from a Socially-Distanced Academy. Human Organization 1 December 2020; 79 (4): 281–291. doi: https://doi.org/10.17730/1938-3525-79.4.281
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