New form of communication during COVID-19

Graphic by Kelsey Jackson.

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In the midst of COVID-19, relationships — both romantic and platonic — are being put to the test in terms of how well people can keep in touch through social media.

Professor of Communication Randal Chase said face-to-face communication has always been ideal because the lack thereof leads to miscommunication.

The disadvantage with traditional social media relationships through Facebook, Instagram or instant messaging is people don’t get non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions.

“A lot of the information that you need in order to understand what someone is trying to communicate with you is missing,” Chase said.

Chase said in this time of rare face-to-face communication, relationships and friendships are at risk; however, because everyone understands what is going on, it may not be as destructive as it normally would if the non-verbal communication were intentional.

Adjunct Instructor Rick Erickson said with the lack of in-person interaction, “you’re forced to adapt; the interaction is less personal in terms of proximity, but I think in terms of the spirit of the relationship as long as you’re maintaining some sort of communication you’re still far better off.”

Most everyone is going to be greatly stressed by the situation the world is in, Chase said. People will need to be patient, people will need to be understanding and people will need to think of more ways to connect rather than texting.

“A lot of the information that you need in order to understand what someone is trying to communicate with you is missing,”

Professor of Communication Randal Chase

Chase suggests everyone use video media, such as FaceTime or Zoom, as much as possible to keep the normalcy.

Heidee Maxine, a sophomore communication studies major from Queen Creek, Arizona, said although social distancing hasn’t affected her relationships yet, not seeing her friends and family as often makes her feel like she is missing out on what’s going on in their lives.

“[I am] very thankful for the technology to stay in touch,” Maxine said. “I have been a lot more aware of how important my friends are to me and how much I love spending time with them.”

Erickson said even though the most important form of interaction has been taken away, people still have the ability to reach out and talk to one another without needing that physical contact.

“Maybe we don’t realize how blessed we are to have the technology that we have at our fingertips,” Erickson said.

Maxine said having technology readily available to her has made the transition easier and more convenient. She said she has been able to continue her love for dance through Zoom and Instagram and is fortunate that she can still continue school and work from home.

Erickson said it’s helpful for the education system that technology allows everyone to continue school work from home.

“It speaks a lot to the foresight of the individuals of the university and local schools that they had this kind of system implemented and in place for such a contingency,” Erickson said. ”It’s certainly been a blessing.”

Erickson said because of the access to technology, the response rate of the COVID-19 pandemic has been much better than in 1918 when the Spanish Flu outbreak occurred.

“We receive the news much faster from the foreign countries than we did back [in 1918],” Erickson said. “We have had a better idea of what we’re dealing with well in advance than right in the middle of it.”