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The Importance Of Socialization – In Person!

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There is no doubt that there are more ways to interact with other people these days; to be “social.” Recent years have even seen the emergence of “social” media as a brand new means by which to engage with others. It is also a scientific fact that humans are social beings. However, are “social media” and being social the same thing? Many say they are not.

The interesting paradox is that while the world is getting smaller by the day through technology, we may actually be growing further apart as humans. In ways previously incomprehensible, we can communicate, instantaneously, with people on the other side of the world. Information is shared across vast distances in brief seconds without much more than a mouse click or keystroke. At the same time, many find themselves spending more and more time interacting online with someone who lives down the block from them as opposed to meeting face to face.

Susan Pinker, a Montreal-based developmental psychologist and journalist, posits this notion in a recent piece for The Globe and Mail. She goes on to say that socialization, in the most real, some would say “old fashioned” sense of actually, physically meeting is dwindling, and that increasing it isn’t just a quaint notion but a potential factor in our health, among other areas. She says that while so many people are quick to jump on the latest diet or health craze, they may be ignoring the simple action we can take to be more social and thus grow mentally and physically fitter.

Pinker goes on to identify four areas of our life that can be improved by socialization. The first is the aforementioned benefits to physical health. Close and familiar relationships provide much needed emotional support, which can decrease stress and bring greater happiness. But there are often overlooked practical benefits as well. Familiar people may help identify symptoms we would otherwise have ignored without a point of reference. Friends and family may assist us when ill, we may go for a walk with a friend we would otherwise not have taken; the list goes on and on to make this less of an abstract idea and more of a concrete fact.

Real-World Socialization Builds Crucial Skills

The second area of life affected by socialization reinforces a point that this very website was founded on: real interaction among families not only leads to the strongest family units, but improves the lives of each member to make them their best selves. Family meals provide bonding, as well as subtler benefits like teaching children manners, problem solving and even vocabulary. Countless studies have shown that children do better in school and are less likely to fall to things like drugs and dysfunction when regular family meals are a part of their life. In the end we learn from our families how to be social, and thus this feeds the rest of our social selves.

The last category identified is business. Casual workplace encounters like coffee breaks or “water cooler talk” can make this area of life more rewarding, less stressful and allow for greater levels of teamwork. Ideas are shared and concerns are alleviated better with a little social interaction. In this day and age more work can be and is performed remotely, in which case inserting some other social interaction in the day is important to keep everything in perspective. The fact is, inside our own heads ideas have a tendency to run rampant. When we verbalize them to others and enjoy the calming effect of social interaction, it makes us happier and more productive.

We see that there really is no substitute for real, face to face interaction. The benefits cannot be replicated by any level of technology. While it may be easier and quicker to get a “social fix” online, by making the extra effort to have offline interactions as well, we allow ourselves to reap the benefits of a life shared with others.

We would like to remind readers that this is an idea we have been pushing since the inception of this site, with one of our earliest articles (worth revisiting today) being about reasons to call as opposed to email an elderly relative.

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