If you find your social and professional network is crumbling down during the pandemic, then fret not because you are alone my friend.
Marissa King, the author of the insightful book Social Chemistry, is also a professor at Yale School of Management. She has been researching the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to people’s networks and her insights are profound and shocking.
We at Asiaone news interviewed King, she discussed how we could reconstruct our broken personal and professional connections in this virus-stricken era. The following shows our questions and her answers.
What happened to our networks during the pandemic?
We compared our findings from people’s connections in June 2019 to that in the midst of the pandemic and the result is that the networks shrunk by 17 percent. The most hit was the outer circle of the networks which constitutes acquaintances and not-so-close contacts.
What impact does this have on the general public?
The size of our network reflects our capability to receive data from our surroundings. It is very important especially when we are looking for work.
Were there any gender discrepancies you discovered?
The most affected sex in this pandemic when it comes to the reduction of networks is mostly men with a decrease by 30 percent while in women there is no change. The reason is that women’s way of communication is through a verbal approach which can be done remotely with this technology, compared to men who prefer actions and spending quality time which is restricted in this pandemic season.
What effect does this distance have on our emotions of intimacy?
Our society is already suffering from a different pandemic, which is the pandemic of loneliness. This problem has been made worse by the coronavirus, which is detrimental to our ability to cope with our circumstances. The reduction of our networks makes everything unbearable now in this transition.
Is it possible to repair the damage done to our social networks?
We are already a society of disconnect, the technology of the internet and smartphones made it worse. As we are glued to our glowing screens, we are slowly building a wall around us like we are all like ice cubes in a tray: cold and isolated.
Clearly what is needed is to be present in the lives of people that we care for, what I really mean is not just in a physical sense but being physically, mentally, and emotionally present for them.
Another thing is to start to be committed to reaching out to people. We don’t need to do a bold move, you can begin with small gestures like picking up a phone or saying a positive affirmation to your loved ones.
In your book, you discuss how vital it is for people to understand what type of networker they are?
There are three types of networkers; the first one is the ‘conveners’ which tend to create and maintain small but close contacts. There are also those who are ‘brokers’, they tend to create professional relationships based on need and reciprocation. Lastly, there are ‘expansionists’, which as the name suggests like to create huge networks which makes them popular and extroverted.
What would you say to someone who has an aversion to networking?
For people who are totally afraid of networking, there is no right time to do it. If we fail to do it now, our contacts will continue to reduce until we become so lonely and that will have detrimental effects not just in our social and professional life but also in our mental and physical health.
You study these things at school, but how has it changed your personal life?
Like everyone in this pandemic era, I have lost much of my contacts because of the lockdown. However, what is important for me now is my kids and my husband. It is important to make a commitment to reach out to your loved ones and be present for them.
There is no perfect ‘network’ for anyone, what is important is responding maturely to our circumstances and accepting that eventually, it will end. If you find yourself lonely in this pandemic, there are many activities that can be done online that can also improve your networks like online gambling.