Social Media During Covid: A Neurobiological and Attachment Perspective

Let’s first talk about Resonance. What exactly is it?

“Resonance” is the shift that occurs in our bodies and mind through another’s experience. It is powerful. We feel what we’re seeing another person feel, we actually live that experience in our bodies as another is. This can be extremely overwhelming, underwhelming, helpful and unhelpful too.

It’s important to remember that resonating with something isn’t equal to having your own experience. It isn’t your reality – good or bad. What you’re feeling is not really your experience. It is another’s experience you’re mirroring by being attuned to their emotional and physical states – without losing your own perception.

How is a conversation about resonance then helpful in the current context of social media?

Resonance is a requirement we have as human beings to be connected to each other intimately. Without resonance, we wouldn’t be able to understand and see another person’s experience from their worldview.

And in a time like this, we’ve all had difficulty connecting with each other intimately. Covid has been a change too quick, too sudden and too much in our lives. While our bodies still struggle to grapple with this change, we also continue to respond in bold and beautiful ways. Social media has been one such powerful resource. It allowed us to connect, in moments of grave disconnection. It has helped us in finding community, information, support and hope. How instantly our bodies reacted to our environments – it hardly took a while for something to become a worldwide phenomenon – dalgona coffees everywhere, different tiktok choreographies, zoom meetings memes, mask designs, sanitising innovations. It definitely made me feel not alone, at several times.

When one feels seen and understood, they’re able to be more vulnerable and feel safe, connected. We’ve all been responding to Covid in different ways – all very valid, informing ways of responding. And possibly, are continuing to respond in similar ways. However, we’ve come a long way from a complete 24*7 lockdown to cities opening up and things going back to a sort-of-normalcy of the pre-covid kind. How much of this change has our body processed? How much of the back and forth of lockdowns has our body been able to acknowledge? It seems like a rather hard thing to do. And I wonder if we just need a moment to acknowledge that it’s hard for our bodies to process information so much, so quickly, so suddenly. Through all this, the virtual world has been a constant for us all.

When someone feels seen and connected, they create an attachment. This can be a powerful tool of change, transformation and healing! It’s a beautiful experience of shared vulnerability.

It can also be dangerous though, especially when there’s no acknowledgment of the power differential, if any, in the identities of the two people. This power dynamic, if sustained for a long time, only grows deeper. For instance, consumerism affects people differently, while it may be a source of soothing for some, it is also a source of distress for those who aren’t able to avail the products, displayed aesthetically thus. And the more important it then can become to bring forth one’s agency in navigating their own life experiences.

 So what exactly has been happening on social media?

We are trying to attune to and find resonance with someone’s experience whom we don’t have an, and can’t actually form an intimate connection with. We might feel safe with them (which is great), but that the vulnerability we might share in this experience isn’t one that we’ll be able to develop or share with each other further. It is momentary, transient. It is then an isolated moment of connection, which leaves us craving for more such transient moments. While helpful in a lot of ways, it cannot substitute other relationship bonds – with ourselves, others, our surroundings. This dynamic might not allow for individuality, self-regulation and introspection which is necessary because we ARE all different. Moreover, differences in the identity locations of the individuals interacting on social media is seldom made apparent, which creates a huge sense of dissonance that our bodies can feel, but minds have no awareness of.

The current context of Covid has only amplified the need for such conversations. To create more awareness amongst consumers about this way of interacting with each other on technology and the social media. About the kind of connections we are forming online – through the like of a click, share of a story. Also, what does sustainability look like in a virtual culture? Especially in the current context we’re living in? Where do we draw the line?

I’m trying to process these changes, and it’s been hard. My body feels exhausted, burnt out, overwhelmed, isolated. And if you feel the same way, you’re not alone! This is my mere attempt at connection, connecting with you, myself and the world around me.

This article is written by our therapist and writer Pooja Gupta