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Chris Bongers
Chris Bongers

Posted on • Originally published at daily-dev-tips.com

The need for social interaction

This is an opinionated article on the need for social interaction.

The other day I got a message from Sandro, telling me he's in The Netherlands and asking if we could meet for a coffee.

I'm always up for a coffee, so let's do it.

I took the train from my town to Amsterdam, which is roughly 2.5 hours of travel. During this time you see so many people.

And most of them are in their little bubble, their minds in different worlds, listening to a podcast, music, or watching a series.

You'd even think they wouldn't notice it if you decide to enter the train fully naked.

(I didn't try that)

Arrive in Amsterdam. You quickly notice the same behavior. Everyone is walking around with AirPods, overhead earphones, and just zoning out.

The interesting part is that you even see it with groups of people that came to Amsterdam together to enjoy the city.

The opposite

Considering this state of solitude, I took it one step further and looked at some overall trends.

  • Twitter Spaces are becoming more and more popular.
  • Individuals wanting to host coffee chats to meet others
  • People wanting to meet up in person
  • Tech events are starting to catch more traction
  • Live youtube/twitch/Instagram interactions

And thinking about it, it makes sense.
Most of us have been in lockdowns, no longer in the office, and no longer meeting up with friends.

So we crave some social interaction to counterbalance our solitude.

But this makes for complicated behavior, one side of us wants to make that genuine connection, but on the other side, we don't want to get bothered by the outside world.

So what do we need?

I think we all need that social interaction in some way.
We want to talk about our professional opinions in the real world with people who understand.

This can have multiple reasons of which some could be:

  • validation of knowledge
  • discussion on topics
  • learning from others

And it makes total sense. These were things you would generally perhaps get from an office.

You would quickly chat to someone before work even started. This has become a bit more difficult.
You're not going to plan an online meeting to discuss non-project-related things with someone.

So that's why I think these fundamental world interactions make a lot of sense.
It's an excellent way to ask questions, interact with others, and spew your ideas at people.

And we should!

It's a great way to improve, grow and make a genuine connection.

Thus opt for some more interaction!
But don't limit yourself to just your field of expertise. Perhaps try and talk to that random stranger on the train!

Who knows what kind of interesting people you meet like that.

Conclusion

We seem to have become more to ourselves, zoning out from the world around us, yet crave real-time engagement to verify and discuss with people that share the same beliefs.

How do you feel about social interaction in this day and age, considering we spend two years in somewhat solitude?

Thank you for reading, and let's connect!

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Discussion (19)

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adiatiayu profile image
Ayu Adiati • Edited on

Social interaction for me after lockdowns feels more like going to new school and knowing no one. Always feel awkward and anxious in the beginning πŸ˜…

Too bad that when you were in The Netherlands it was bad timing to meet up!
But let me know when you're around again! πŸ˜ƒ
I don't know where in The Netherlands you're at, but if you ever go to Zuid Holland (Rotterdam/Den Haag), let me know! πŸ˜„

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

I will let you know!
Hopefully the next time won't be so much in the middle of holiday season πŸ˜…

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leob profile image
leob

Hm lol, most of your articles are a good read and so is this one, but the point that you're trying to get across eludes me a bit ... do you mean that people are looking at their little screens too much and should talk to each other more? I've re-read this post a couple of times, but maybe my reading comprehension skills are failing me a bit, lol.

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

It might be a bit off, as I probably wrote this in a plane πŸ˜…

I think people are unknowingly missing small social interactions you might have had pre-covid.

Office interactions at the coffee machine, but in general people tend to stay more to themselves I feel like.
Where's the social interactions in the coffee shop, or while waiting in a cue.

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leob profile image
leob

Yeah okay I see what you mean ... well I'm a perfectly happy remote worker since more than 6 years, so I'm not having those "physical" office interactions anyway (somehow also not missing them really).

The social interaction that I love (apart from interacting with family members) is when I go on a cycling trip in the countryside, and I'm just passing people who greet me in a friendly way and I'm greeting them back of course. I can understand that in a big city full of people you tend to do that less but even then, just to look each other in the eye and acknowledge each other, I'm convinced that these little things do a lot of good, it can make my day, it's a feel-good thing.

There's even been research on this subject where the conclusion was that when people in a neighborhood greet each other there's more trust, less crime and so on - more social cohesion, less problems. Respect is THE basis of everything, I'm convinced of that.

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lucassperez profile image
Lucas Perez • Edited on

I can't stand no social interaction anymore, I believe I have forever lost some of my sanity.

I have always been the shy, introverted guy, but at the same time I feel like I need small talk or else...

I worked in the office only once since December 2020 and it was the best day of work.

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

Yeah trust me i'm also introverted and to a point it's cool working from home.
But you do really miss the sanity of there even being other people.

Especially the hard-lockdown was hard, where you couldn't even meet family or close friends.

Let's hope this maybe sparks something and people might endeavour more into social interactions.

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pavonz profile image
Andrea Pavoni

I can’t agree more! Especially having social interactions in real life is priceless. And this is beyond the nerd/professional context.
Even going out alone to a bar, a club or a bookstore and talking to strangers is a totally different level of interaction: you get an infinite load of inputs and clues that you can’t get from a text-chat or a videocall.

This especially important for younger generations (I mean below the 40s, I’m 45 for context): if they want to learn/train social skills and improve their baggage of life experiences, this is a must do, even if it might feel awkward or uncomfortable or useless at the beginning, it’s truly life-changing.

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

100%, It's interesting how much difference a conversation in person makes.
You have all these new kind of micro-interactions that play.

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

We want to talk about our professional opinions in the real world with people who understand.

I get this, but I feel the need is filled by having video chats, standups, etc. with people who work in my team, or the same with other friends if it's not appropriate for work. I don't see this as a problem that really exists in a work context. I mean, I get wanting to have a random chat with a friend, but the professional thing is something I think that us developers have covered.

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

Not really a problem indeed, but I personally find it really cool when I do have these face-to-face chats.

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panditapan profile image
Pandita

I feel you on these social interactions.

One of my biggest culture shock here in Mexico, is that in the city I'm currently living in, people just don't like other people! they're not going to consider you a friend unless you studied together since, I don't know, pre-kinder. It's a very different way of socializing (everyone just keeps to themselves). Most of the people I spontaneously or constantly interact with are NOT from this city but living in it for reasons.

Contrasted to Venezuela where I was constantly bombarded with people talking to me (or my mom), telling me their life story or opinions. Going out always seemed to be an adventurous experience where anybody could suddenly tell me they're getting a divorce because their ex-man was a stupid cheater or that they're sewing panties because due to the economic crisis the panty prices are off the roof (true story).

So, do you think the people in this city I live in believe me when I tell them that? πŸ˜‚

It's these things that really make me miss my home country. But whenever someone approaches me here in the neighborhood to talk to me, I feel a little bit of that warmth that I'm missing and I'm reminded that well, keeping to myself isn't bad too since it lets me appreciate these little moments.

You really don't realize what you have until you lose it you know? ;W;

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

Exactly that last line!

It's very much the same in South Africa, people click from early on as everything happens in "secure" environment due to safety.
It's hard for people to accept new people.

I did find certain hobbies, like board games/working out/running are a great way to get connected to new people.

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brense profile image
Rense Bakker

I didn't know you were in the Netherlands :D

Great article on an important topic! I used to always claim that I prefer solitude and that I don't need other people and for the most part thats true. However at times I still need that connection with other people. It can be a small thing, like someone looking you in the eyes while you walk past them in the streets, or greeting a random stranger, sharing a smile with the waitress that brings your coffee. If you think about it, these kinds of interactions have a much bigger impact on your mental well-being than you realize. We want to be acknowledged in our existence and thats why its important to be around other people sometimes, so those interactions can take place.

I don't believe in hugging and this "right to spread our germs" stance that a small but extreme portion of the population has taken though. xD

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

I was! Next time you should come to a meetup πŸ‘€

Now back in South Africa.

I do prefer solitude when working and focussing, but also like you said really enjoy the casual chats at the dog park.
Or the waitress who asks you how your day is going.
It's like Endorfine that get's fired.

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yourmdsarfaraj profile image
MD Sarfaraj

I always try to connect with people but most the time they don't respond, What's your thoughts on this?

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

It's very dependant on where you are in the world I've noticed.
In some places it's the norm, in others it's frowned upon.

My personal believes is that we should do more of it.
It's cool to get to know new people.

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yourmdsarfaraj profile image
MD Sarfaraj

Yes, mostly I ping people on social media.

Thread Thread
pavonz profile image
Andrea Pavoni

Try meetups in your city (or a nearest bigger city), pick whatever topic/activity might interest you (even if you never tried that) and go with the flow.

Pinging (random?) people on social media has the lowest rate of success (and you also might come as somewhat creepy).

I have a Facebook account with deliberately zero friends, I only use it to find events (mostly live concerts and club parties) when I want to have some fun ;-)