It began with rumors of a virus going around the world in January 2020. Then in March, life abruptly stopped moving and came to a halt. Kids and adults alike were isolated to their own homes, having to work and meet virtually. Social gatherings became small, few, and far between. The economy took a hit as well in the form of a recession, and unemployment rates skyrocketed. Weeks went by, followed by months, then a year in quarantine. Now, two years later, life is returning to normal with fully reopened schools and lifted restrictions. Having been through such a long period of global quarantine and decreased contact has really put into perspective the value of social interaction; it is essential to human welfare because of practical necessity, emotional fulfillment, and the exchange of ideas.
For starters, today’s society requires participation and collaboration for livelihood. Social necessity largely results from the development of modern urban regions, creating a commercial lifestyle based on the interactions of labor and exchange. This explains how decreased consumerism during the pandemic was largely responsible for U.S. economic decline and unemployment, for as Siddhartha from the novel Siddhartha stated, “The merchant also lives on the possessions of others.” From labor and exchange one earns money, which then finances such basic necessities as food, clothing, housing, and medical care. Additionally, staying together is essential to human survival as well because it provides security from physical threats and hardship. The film Seven Samurai showed how wartime success against the bandits relied on the farmers’ and samurais’ collective efforts, for as Kambei Shimada said, “war is not fought alone!” Also, from the podcast on “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky,” Juliana was fortunate to not encounter any predators in the jungle after her crash landing from the plane because even if she knew where to find food, water, and shelter, prolonged living in the wilderness still would have been perilous on her own. It is during struggling times like Juliana’s as a result of sudden disasters or illness when unity keeps everyone supported and moving forward. Thus, social interaction lays the foundation for our prosperity and basic existence.
In addition, humans have an innate emotional desire to be with others. For example, consider love, a universally desired feeling shared by most humans. Siddhartha sought fulfillment through romantic love for Kamala and familial love for his son. In Seven Samurai, love also united the village girl Shino and the samurai Katsushiro even though their relationship was forbidden. However, not only is love emotionally fulfilling, but so is any kind of social interaction. For instance, social media platforms provide a medium to communicate and feel connected with others by virtually reliving their memories caught on camera. Although technology cannot replicate real interactions due to the lack of touch, watching let’s play series on YouTube has brought me much laughter and joy as I could still sort of relate to the creator as a friend. According to The decline of play, the nature of play is social as well, which is why it is necessary for healthy emotional and social development in children. Conversely, deprivation of interaction leads to mental health issues and sadness. This is seen in how isolation during quarantine has played a significant role in the rise in mental health issues. Even on Siddhartha’s journey of self discovery, the “icy despair” of loneliness from leaving everyone behind consumed him. Hence, socialization is a basic necessity for our mental and emotional wellbeing.
Lastly, human communication of ideas brings stability and progress. For instance, Siddhartha constantly met new people throughout his life whose perspectives changed his outlook in several ways: selflessness from the Samanas, love from Kamala, greed from Kamaswami, and contentment from Vasudeva. Another example is apparent in the farmers from Seven Samurai, who also demonstrate the importance of socialization for sharing knowledge, for their success in fighting the bandits depended on receiving combat knowledge and training from the samurai. Moreover, the internet has become the greatest socialization hub and mass relayer of information, with anyone able to share their thoughts or knowledge whether in a blog post, a professional article, or a YouTube video. Through the internet, we can stay informed of world events and discover new ideas and trends, making possible the surge in awareness of the Russo-Ukrainian War and TDCS. In addition, school serves as a primary social environment for teachers to educate students, preparing them with the skills and knowledge needed to take on careers and function in the modern world. Although, the year of virtual school during the pandemic only partially fulfilled this purpose because the lack of physical interaction meant reduced socialization, hands-on instruction, and concentration, which are conducive to effective learning. Therefore, the sharing of knowledge maintains the flow of society and allows us to respond to and elicit change.
The days of having to stay cooped up at home are of the past. The initial stages of the pandemic are over, and after it has ended across the world, the whole ordeal will surely leave an everlasting imprint on us. May we approach life thereafter with newfound appreciation for simply being able to go out without concern for our health. Although once portrayed as the enemy, socialization is clearly a good thing when the mask comes off, and it should be cherished. Considering all of the missed time that could have been spent outside and with friends during quarantine, it is all the more important that we make up for it as cases go down.