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My Oulu: Do not forget your friend, reminds Sami Luukela in his column

15.12.2021

Sami Luukela is a student activist and studies communications in Oulu. In his column he reflects on loneliness during the pandemic and its consequences.

We still live in an exceptional situation due to the coronavirus pandemic and it seems to be getting worse here in the Oulu region as well.

However, we have certainly all learned something new during the pandemic and made observations about ourselves and the world around us. We have noticed the most important things in our lives and found others that have been surprisingly easy to give up. However, many things have changed without us wanting to.

One of my biggest concerns is how little people seem to be meeting each other and how much loneliness has grown. After the particularly tight lockdown period, it felt like people were still staying home even when the strictest restrictions were lifted.

Getting someone to join you for a lunch became difficult, not to mention finding a friend for going to the movies or other hobbies, for example. Everyday matters are not discussed with colleagues during remote work, and, due to the decrease in hobby activity, daily contacts and social interactions for the elderly and young people in particular have been reduced alarmingly.  

I strongly believe I am not the only one who has experienced much more loneliness during the pandemic than before it. I am afraid that loneliness and exclusion have remained secondary concerns in the treatment of the pandemic, and we will not see the real damage of this until years to come. Loneliness has a holistic effect on a person’s mental health and a major impact on our self-esteem.

There are a lot of expectations and norms associated with Christmas and the media is constantly creating a picture of Christmas as a celebration of joy and being together, even though there are a lot of people for whom this time is the loneliest period of the year.

During Christmas, and especially during long holiday periods, the feeling of loneliness becomes significantly more common. It gives lonely people a lot of anxiety and a feeling of seclusion long in advance.

The darkest time of the year itself increases the number of contacts with mental health services, but the time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic has increased the demand even further. In particular, contacts on helplines have increased and more resources are really needed.  

While responsibility is still required, I am sure friends could meet each other safely in this situation, as well. In addition to the increase in loneliness, the reduction in contacts with other people can have another significant consequence.

Finns are already widely known around the world for their somewhat anti-social nature, and the stereotype may become even more truthful if people still stay home for a long time to come.

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