Today is the International Day of Friendship. Writing on the day’s meaning, the U.N. explains that confronting the world’s challenges requires “promoting and defending a shared spirit of human solidarity that takes many forms — the simplest of which is friendship.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, friendship has looked different, and many of our connections have been tested or grown distant. But for those who worked to maintain their social connections, friendship offered a key support during this incredibly difficult time, and the internet enabled levels of communication not possible in past pandemics.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, “Whereas some online activities, such as excessive news consumption, can amplify rather than alleviate emotional distress during a pandemic (Gao et al., 2020), our findings highlight the psychological benefits of connecting electronically with trusted and close others.”
These findings were especially pronounced in individuals living alone, explaining that when they “were satisfied with their overall electronic connections with their friends, they reported lower levels of loneliness, anxiety, and depression.”
“In addition to fulfilling fundamental needs for social belonging,” the study explains, “connecting with close others can offer much needed validation and emotional support.”
When we’re living through an incredibly difficult time, it makes sense that we turn to those closest to us to build us up, to share our struggles, and to simply spend time with, whether that’s face-to-face or online.
To honour this day, some members of the CHASI team shared their thoughts on how friendships have pushed them to better themselves, fight for change, or turn knowledge into action.
Throughout my travels and studies, I have made many friends of different ages, cultures, and perspectives. I have been so lucky that they have shared their wisdom and experiences with me. All these interactions have led me to always seek to learn more about other people’s lives and realities and pushed me to make informed decisions hopefully leading to making the world a better place. I can definitely say that I would not be the person I am without the support, guidance, and love of my global friends. Thanks to you all xx
“Friends are family, your choice” is written on a stone in the backyard of my parents’ home. Friends are family has always been my way of thinking. I have found friendship in many of the things I have done in my life, and that includes the internet too. I love that I have old friends, new friends, and past friends. They have all given me something in life, and that’s experience. A unique friendship with each person means I am constantly growing, and for that I am grateful.
Even before Covid, a lot of my friendships lived online, and a lot of the most impactful ones were with people I’ve never met in person! By being a part of a virtual community, my social circle expanded from just a few close friends who were very similar to me to people with all kinds of lived experiences. They were kind of enough to share and discuss their lives with me. Even though many of us have drifted our separate ways now, the impacts of their friendship still stick with me and help me see the changes the world needs, and ways that I can have an impact on a personal scale, and even understand facets of my own identity. I’m so grateful for those conversations and the way that they shaped me.
From all of us at CHASI to each of our friends: thank you for helping us during this time. We can’t wait to see you in person again.
This illustration by Celina Koops is part of CHASI’s ongoing series acknowledging some of the significant annual observances that align with our core values. To learn more and see the other illustrations in this series, please visit our observances page.