Have you noticed that the way we relate to each other has changed since the invasion of social media in our lives? I hasten to add that that invasion has brought many positive changes as well.  But this pandemic, in its totally unexpected ways, has also affected those changes we have been living with, more often without focused attention.

When our survival is threatened, as with this invisible virus infection, we react with emotion because the issue hits the amygdala, the brain center that is programmed to fend off the impending danger, as it should. However, we need to keep in mind how that coping mechanism directs our behavior. There are 3 reactions: Fight, flight or freeze.

Let me offer some wise words from Adam Grant, Wharton School (UPenn) professor: 

“A core skill of emotional intelligence is treating your feelings as a rough draft. Like art, emotions are works in progress. It rarely serves you well to frame your first sketch. As you gain perspective, you can revise what you feel. Sometimes you even start over from scratch.” (Twitter post, 9/6/2020)

How would we revise that first feeling of fear? Read information from credible sources. Talk with your friends and family. And this is where camaraderie comes in, defined as mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together. In yesterday’s world, we were able to discuss subjects even if we disagreed with one another. In today’s divisive and tribal world, hostility and nastiness seem to accompany occasions when there are differing views. It is no surprise that there is much “unfriending” taking place on social media.

How would we reconcile the need to protect ourselves in a rational manner while we have fear and anxiety flooding our minds? Taking a deep breath, checking facts, discussing how others you trust are dealing with it, and keeping abreast of scientific knowledge while it evolves as it normally does. Taking care of yourself and those you love and respect. It is essential that we use our rational capabilities with civility and not get caught up in extreme views. Our relationships, friendships and partnerships are needed to get through such stressful times.

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. ~~ Epictetus (Greek philosopher)

Photo credit: Harli Marten (unsplash.com)

Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577

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