Social connections affect focus

Use of social media is known to impact our focus negatively. Social media had one fantastic benefit during the peak of the pandemic. Online connections, when fostered intentionally, can have a positive affect on focus. I recently started reading Michelle Obama’s “The Light we Carry”. She begins by discussing her use of small things to regain focus when bigger things become overwhelming. She took up knitting, among other things, during the pandemic. I was reminded of the many hobbies that many of us re/started during COVID isolation.

I also started knitting (again) after years of not picking up my knitting needles. I completed 1000 piece puzzles again. Worked on my photo organizing that had become neglected. And I wrote.

connections with self through writing

What interests me most about all of this is that many of us did not only take up or reactivate hobbies that we hadn’t participated in for ages. Many of these hobbies (new and old) were trending across the world.

When used with intention social media can aid connections

When we talk about the value of social connection we often refer to the negative impact social media has had. It has affected the quality and depth of our social connections overall. Yet, we used the same technology that has been creating disconnect and lack of focus, to make connections with people. People we otherwise were disconnected from because of physical isolation. And when we did so over common interests, goals and concerns, we did so meaningfully.

Introverts were relieved to have a little (or big) break from “peopling”. Many extraverts were struggling with loss of contact with people… Some of us found new people online… Others found new ways to connect with the people who were normally in our lives but suddenly not due to physical isolation. We mastered zoom and video calls to make family get togethers happen virtually. We learned how to “tiktok”. New interests were discovered while making new friends.

social connections affect focus

There was a nationwide shortage of yeast when so many took up breadmaking – many for the first time  Then shared the spoils on social media – or left gift packages on the neighbours’ doorsteps.

The thing about social media is that it’s really only effective when the user is highly active. Unfortunately that online activity can have a negative impact on in-real-life relationships. Unless both (all) parties are equally as active and are interacting with each other on the same platforms. When trying to be that highly interactive online while engaging in-real-life activities it tends to take away from the depth of in-the-moment experiences (think selfies and hashtags) while distracting from the actual experience.

connections affect focus

Connections affect focus

But during the pandemic we’ve been using social media to substitute for some of those lost connections. And when doing so while engaging in typically solitary activities we found ways to connect with ourselves as well as others. It only stands to reason that those improvements to lost social connections during isolation affect our ability to focus.

Did you take up any new hobbies since COVID-19? How have you connected socially in new or increased ways?


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