- Watching TV shows, reading books, and listening to music can fulfill social connection, according to new research.
- Healthy people tend to use both traditional and nontraditional social techniques to feel connected.
- Nontraditional social strategies can help people reflect on the relationships they have and the people they miss.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.
Has the pandemic got you watching reruns of your favorite TV shows, listening to your favorite songs on repeat, or reading the same book again?
体育投注网址According to recent , your behavior makes sense — especially during this time when we’re all practicing physical distancing.
Researchers at the University at Buffalo report that nontraditional social strategies, such as those referred to as “guilty pleasures,” can fulfill critical social needs in a similar way that family connections, romantic relationships, or social support systems do.
“Our brains are not wired to differentiate between real relationships and the kind of connections we feel to the social worlds presented in books and TV shows. Now is the time to take advantage of that. Don’t feel guilty about rewatching your favorite show or bingeing a new one. It may actually be good for you,” , PhD, professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo and co-author of the paper, told Healthline.
Dr. Gabriel has studied the significance of nontraditional social strategies for more than 10 years. Her current research is the first to examine and compare traditional and nontraditional social strategies and their effectiveness.
She and colleagues asked more than 170 participants questions about their well-being and social connections. Their answers were evaluated based on something they call a “social fuel tank.”
Participants reported as many as 17 different ways in which they fill their “social tanks.” Most noted both traditional and nontraditional social strategies.
体育投注网址“There are many ways to [fulfill] the need for social connection. Our society puts so much pressure on people to get married and have kids and that is great — if it is what makes you happy. But there are other ways to live a connected and happy life, and we shouldn’t make people feel guilty about them. You aren’t failing if you choose alternative ways to connect,” Gabriel said.
She added that healthy people tend to use both nontraditional and traditional social techniques, and that everyone has their own ideal blend of ways to socially connect.
体育投注网址However, she said it’s important to note that original research on the topic found a substantial difference between traditional and nontraditional ways of remaining connected.
“The traditional ways of being social (e.g., family, romantic partner) were used to feel connected by many more people and more often than were nontraditional ways (e.g., reading books). More importantly, traditional connections were stronger predictors of well-being,” Batcho told Healthline.
She said that remaining isolated or socially distant and relying on activities such as watching TV, eating favorite foods, or gaming aren’t long-term substitutes for actual interactions with other people.
体育投注网址But during this time of physical distancing, since many traditional ways of connecting aren’t possible, nontraditional means of connecting are a good substitute.
“While we need to socially distance, watching our favorite shows, reading books, and listening to our favorite music can keep us feeling anchored in the life that’s been temporarily suspended,” Batcho said.
“By reminding us that our life goes on, remaining engaged in familiar activities reminds us also that so do our relationships,” she said. “Just as we can still watch our favorite show or listen to our favorite music, we can count on our friends and relatives to be there for us, even at a distance for now.”