Before the pandemic, some people of younger generations expressed feeling social anxiety, which is characterized by feelings that range from discomfort to a true phobia of interacting socially in everyday life, especially in situations that require certain exposure of oneself, like starting conversations with classmates and / or work, or even taking phone calls instead of written messages.
With the restrictions of the pandemic, it is clear that the way we interact socially has changed radically. Although in some countries the population has returned, for example, to massive events or to socialize indoors, post-pandemic social anxiety is a reality in many sectors of the population.
There are groups that, before the pandemic, were never really exposed to sociability in certain contexts and this can generate a late socialization process – that is, the process by which we learn the norms to coexist in society – as is the case of the children who saw their entrance to school interrupted for the first time. The same happens with recent graduates looking for their first job, or those who entered a new school to continue their education. Essentially, these places are considered essential in secondary socialization: it is where we learn to live outside the home, we learn norms of coexistence in society. What consequences does this type of delay in socialization have on how children and young people will relate? Before the pandemic, some specialists warned about the usefulness of the internet in the training of children and young people, but also about the need to regulate and supervise its use from home.
The new generations struggle, for example, for verbal interactions with strangers that do not go through written messages on the screen. For living together and having conversations in different contexts, for example, at a meal with people with whom they usually do not eat. The social anxiety that this could mean for them as a result of a pandemic that revolutionized our ways of relating to each other, we have not yet experienced. It is probably necessary to proactively stimulate and seek spaces so that children and young people can express themselves not only through verbal exchange, but also through joint activities, such as role-playing, cooking, expressing emotions through the arts in order to normalize social interaction.
It is not surprising that many people who suffered from social anxiety have also seen it increased in the wake of the pandemic. Beyond seeing these situations that require “correction”, it is necessary in the case of children and young people, to look for alternatives to the ways in which they coexist. And in adults, have patience to value well-being above all, in order to continue taking steps towards improving the discomfort that living with others could cause.
Faced with these scenarios, food as a whole will undoubtedly be a vehicle to facilitate these interactions, which have been reduced in quality and quantity as a result of the pandemic. It is difficult to predict how far the impacts of delayed socialization will go, for example in children, but it is not impossible to favor and adapt forms of coexistence in which they can learn social norms. Sociability will, in any case, have a certain metamorphosis in the years to come, as a result of the new ways of working, studying and organizing the day to day.
Food and society columnist
POINT AND HOW
Food and society columnist. Gastronaut, observant and foodie. She is a researcher in the sociology of food, and a nutritionist. She is president and founder of Funalid: Foundation for Food and Development.