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People turn to apps for virtual social connection amidst COVID-19

Posted at 6:42 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 13:14:25-05

BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — Social media apps like Meetup are fostering virtual relationships, bringing people within a community together and allowing them to feel more confident and connected to others.

”Meetup is all about frankly like curing the loneliness epidemic it’s an app and also a website, it’s been around for 18 years and it was founded right after 9/11 to build community for people,” said David Siegel the CEO of Meetup.

Socially engaging with others can not only increase your knowledge on unknown topics but provide a social support.

”This is important for a lot of things knowing you have someone there in a stressful situation or a hard time is really beneficial,” said Jessica Bernard, an assistant professor from the department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Texas A&M.

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you needed something until it’s gone—and following the pandemic solidarity has negatively affected some, thankfully though, apps have been adapting.

”Prior to the pandemic, we didn’t even allow online events, we said they all had to be in person, in the last 8 months and this is quite remarkable we’ve had over 1.5 million online events,” said Siegel.

Social interaction has a positive effect on the brain to buffer pain.

”There is a hormone called oxytocin it’s associated with child birth, breast feeding during sexual intercourse but it’s also that hormone we have an experience with closeness with other people,” said Bernard.

Although many are unable to meet in person, having a common denominator to bond on, even if virtually, can sustain a relationship for the future and greatly impact the well-being of an individual.

”Now someone organizes, here’s an example, an extotic dance meet up group and I just heard from the organizer and she said ‘oh my god I used to get 10-12 people from my little town, now I just had double the number of people and they were from like 12 different countries,” said Siegel.

In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, it was concluded that individuals were positively impacted by the apps ability to bring people together. 72% of users who participated in the cross-sectional study said they have created more friendships.