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By Hayley Jones

People innately want to connect. This unprecedented time has disrupted our human need for connection. Our daily routines of coffee chats, workout classes, and subway commutes are essentially a thing of another time, as we take the necessary steps of self-isolation in our effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Searching for ways to fill that void, we’ve gravitated toward something familiar: social media.

As a society, we’ve turned to digital platforms like Zoom, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to stay connected with family and friends and maintain a sense of community. With everyone home, it’s easier now, more than ever, to connect with people through digital platforms and keep up with our craving for social interactions.

From celebrities sharing inspirational messages and athletes posting how they are social distancing, to quarantine concerts and family TikToks, social media is at the epicenter of it all. We’re finding new ways to relate with one another, reconnect with old friends and form new friendships through these collective experiences.

This past month in March, Instagram increased to 124,200,000 active users from 119,800,000 in the US, a 3.7 percent growth. Facebook saw a 2.5 percent growth in March to 233,500,000 active users in the US, compared to 227,800,000 in February. Not only did Instagram and Facebook’s active users rise, but the platforms have even created guides on how to maintain connections during these times.

The ability to connect with people through social media in this day and age, is nothing new. But having to self-isolate and preserve our community and feel like we’re still with friends and family when we’re not, is something we’ve never experienced before. For all we know, hosting virtual happy hours, reunions and birthday parties could be the new norm post-COVID. One thing is for certain, prioritizing connection and using digital platforms to do it, is something we will all hold on to once we return to some sort of normality.

Key Takeaways You Can Start Now:

1. Reach out to your network

Reconnect with old friends and colleagues you’ve been meaning to check in with. Rebuild those relationships and see what ways you can help out during this time. Also, see what new relationships you can form to expand your network in areas you haven’t had the chance to explore yet.

2. Consider new communities

If you’ve been wanting to be part of a new community and haven’t had the time or feel timid about joining, jump into a new group. People are particularly welcoming and compassionate now and want to support others in their ventures. You’ll expand your network without even knowing.

3. Keep hold of these platforms and connections

The spike in social media usage and participation in virtual concerts, family TikToks, or Zoom happy hours, don’t just have to stay with COVID-19. Hold on to these fun experiences and keep them going once things start to return to normal.