According to this study, it has.

What I know, as we endure our third lockdown in Thailand, is that cooperation and progress is slow in an internet age of fiber optics. The strengths and weaknesses of cultures feels like itโ€™s been on high-res display during the pandemic because while Thais are comfortable wearing masks, itโ€™s common to see someone pull it away in order to cough or sneeze.

As a lay person, the study, as best as I can tell, appears to echo what we already know about cognitive decline in aging populations (and the mental health of astronauts and Arctic scientists who have to function in extreme conditions) who can have limited social interactions and movement.

Older populations who lack close friends are at a higher risk of dementia, and for those coping in a limited space, of Alzheimerโ€™s. This reminded me of “kodokushi or lonely death, a Japanese phenomenon of people dying alone and remaining undiscovered for a long period of time.โ€

And this, in turn, made me think about longevity research because one of the key components to living a long life is having a healthy social network which is exactly what we saw reduced during lockdown. When some of my single friends moved back home in 2020, it seemed like a fantastic risk, but now, I see how it was good for their health.

So now when I think about people who have been taking risks to gather, party, see family and friends, they donโ€™t seem like such baboons. Now, Iโ€™m not saying, they havenโ€™t been the cause of CV hotspots and the third wave weโ€™re experiencing in Thailand, Iโ€™m just saying, itโ€™s biological, and people canโ€™t take it anymore.

At the end of the study, they said policymakers should consider the repercussions of asking people to self-isolate, as well as seek out alternatives.

One of the fascinating things about Taiwan (they never went into lockdown) was how much the government emphasized educating their public. [Regular tannoy announcements on trains and TV updates, etc. on how CV spread, what to do.] And a population that trusts their leadership is a pretty big deal, too, but maybe it was earned. Mutual respect sometimes gets overlooked when talking about successful relationships.

And right now, the Thai government is trying to gain back trust with its people which has eroded through a myriad of reasons.

The consequences of governments and organizations making decisions in โ€œisolationโ€ also comes to mind. I donโ€™t know about your country, but mine has been overrun by professional politicians and businessmen who are out-of-touch with real people. The 1%-ers have all the power and money, and while we envy them for it, perhaps we have it wrong โ€“ maybe it has made them dumber, too.

Do we want an educated society? Or one in which only the rich have access to a higher quality? How can we make room for healthy competition and capitalism without the majority of people suffering?

Did lockdown make us dumber? How did you counteract the 1-2 lbs of weight gain for every month we stayed at home? Or lack of stimuli? Did this pandemic change your mind about the efficacy and mental health impact lockdown has had in your country?

33 replies on “Has social isolation due to lockdown made us dumber?

  1. I think it makes a lot of sense. Personally I think there’s got to be a middle ground–some interaction with those closest to you, mostly outdoors, I think is a great thing and unlikely to cause much spread.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You bring up a good point. It was crazy to see/hear/learn about families that couldn’t see each other, visit at the hospital, or join for celebrations (graduations, births, weddings) and other significant events.

      Many countries took it to the extreme and while it was well-meaning and we didn’t know as much as we do now, did we do more damage than good?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In South Africa we had one of the strictest lockdowns in the world from April-August last year. Other than delaying the onslaught of covid cases for a couple of months, I’m not sure it made that much of a difference, and I’m pretty certain it wasn’t worth the financial ruin, public anger, and mental health damage it caused. But I also don’t know what the proper response is/would have been. I don’t know if lockdown made me dumber but it definitely hasn’t made me any smarter! I feel clueless as ever. Haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did not know that about S AF and I followed your diary!

      Yeah, a friend posted recently a photo of Siem Reap’s Old Market – gone. My jaw dropped. And when we went to Chiang Mai, I couldn’t believe how many businesses closed.

      Maybe the lesson is we can’t stop it once it gets out, so countries (esp the ones where they want to ‘save face’) need to be transparent for the greater good.

      And hey, while we’re at it, take another look at the sources and focus on prevention?

      But whatta I know? Eh? Trying to get nations to agree has got to be like herding cats… ๐Ÿ˜›

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well put. I share your sentiments coming from The Ph. A year on and many people still have no clue what to do. Also, because they do not trust or agree with how the government is handling this situation, a good number of infected individuals do not even report their cases. Honestly, whenever I see countries that are recovering well and have some semblance of normalcy, I envy them big time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The roles have flipped, haven’t they? We were the “lucky ones” in the beginning but I never felt like bragging that because you never know when the shoe’s gotta be on the other foot.

      Now, with the successful vaccine rollout of Europe and the US, it’s really looking like they’ll be able to open up again. Meanwhile, SEA didn’t really think they needed to vaccinate their ppl, did they? Too much mistrust, fear and frankly mishandling of info has done too much damage… it’s the same here. When folks do go to the hospital, they lie and infect the staff, who then have to go into quarantine… the only good news is that the vaccine is here – but we’re at 1% what about you in Ph?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True. My sister is an ER physician and she loses her shit with patients who lie – what about the fcking staff? Outrageous. Good thing they are all safe and very good in handling this situation. We were so worried about them at the start. Vaccinations are also happening but incredibly slow. Still, my parents and sisters who are healthcare workers got their first shot so that is something. Whereabouts are you in Th?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We’re near Koh Samet. So far we’re not in any of the CV hotspots, but there have been scares for sure.

        So you’re part of a family of healthcare workers, but what about you? ๐Ÿ˜€ Nah, you don’t have to answer that. JK. Glad your family is safe and vaccinated. โค

        Like

  4. I think the lockdown was very detrimental to my mental health as well as those around me. Add to that the terrible governance in my country and you have over half our population down with anxiety (half our population = 700million people!!!!). I do think the lockdown made us all dumber for a number of reasons –
    1. We were more or less cut off from everything and we could only rely on the news for information which was all misleading in India
    2. Since we had a lot more free time created by the lack of social obligations – we spent so much time on our phones binge watching mindless content or playing games or creating random TikTok videos (๐Ÿ™„)
    3. People relied a lot more on social media to fulfill their social needs and we all know how detrimental that can be

    I really believe that with proper governance this whole pandemic could have been handled better. Taiwan, New Zealand, Germany are some great examples of this. My country’s government has let us down massively in the last 1 year. ๐Ÿ˜“

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand. Well, as much as I can living in SEA as opposed to S. Asia. You bring up a good point with who folks relied on social media during this time.

      I think in the beginning when this was really unknown, I could be more forgiving of govts and mistakes, but its been over a year. Surely, this is enough time to study what has worked, what hasn’t, what proactive measures we need to take in order to have a functioning society again?

      Like

  5. You made a good point. I’ve probably been more solitary than most this past year. I have a respiratory that puts me at risk, so I was particularly careful. And, being a widow, I live alone. Yeah, I’m probably getting dumber. I thought it was just my age. One of my daughters and her husband will be staying with me for 3 wks. soon while they wait for their new house. So that will keep me busy. It probably won’t do any good for my expanding waistline–or maybe it will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t expect anyone to admit this! ๐Ÿ˜€ I figured folks would defend what and how they did things that helped them counteract all the isolation.

      I wonder if daily or regular video chats helped? Or having a pet? I have more questions than answers.

      But glad to hear you’ll have company. That will be a nice change ๐Ÿ™‚ Lots of good social interaction!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Basically I found the pandemic fairly easy. I had lots of writing and such to keep my mind busy, and I had regular Zooms with family and friends. But as it’s ending, I’m beginning to wonder if the lockdown HAS had negative effects. So I’m glad to have the possibility now of more regular in-person contacts.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Of course, in the U.S. we don’t really lock down, at least not in suburbia and in more rural places, like where I live. Our parks in our county were always open; we could take walks, which I continued to do with friends. My kids continued to be in school (because they go to a small Catholic school), and except for the first few months, we continued to go to church. But I can’t imagine being a single person, isolated in a city during all this–especially an older person. I know my aunt and uncle, who are in their 80s had a terribly hard time being separated from their friends. Here in the U.S., at least, everything is so politicized, it seems you can’t talk about the downsides to isolation or the outcomes (like weight gain and other health problems) that have come from it without your concern being taken as a political stance–ripe for political argument (which I generally run away from, honestly!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s too bad about the politics because the pandemic should be a learning opportunity – esp considering the reality of another one hitting us.

      That being said, I’m glad you are in a small town and were able to get out. Our lockdowns in Tland were the same mostly. But I was hella surprised to learn that my friend in the Netherlands couldn’t even go out for a walk during the thick of it. So yeah, I think there was def a broad range.

      xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Covid has reminded us terribly how social we are…no matter if we are happy hermits.

    I feel sorry for the students who do need the social dimension of learning with their peers in person. There is an aspect of school learning, where it’s learning social skills in addition to the academic content.

    Lani….my partner died alone suddenly…in Vancouver over a month ago. So with covid…it has acutely highlighted the difficulties of seeing our loved ones often.

    Like

  8. What an interesting post, Lani. I hated the first couple of months in Abu Dhabi being stuck in an 8th floor apartment. I’m not very social, but initially not even being able to go for a walk or kayak made me feel claustrophobic. I am so grateful that I could escape that in October last year, and now, being on the land I feel free and unrestricted. So many of the rules and regulations make absolutely no sense to me. It often sounds more like political power plays than sensible ways to contain a virus. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but goodness, it seems human stupidity has no limits, so I think if it didn’t make us dumber, it certainly served to highlight how stupid we are as a species.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I love your way with words. It’s been crazy bananas over here with the vaccine roll out. But yesterday I decided to not look at the local news and numbers and today I’m doing the same. Stupidity can bring you down. Hahahahaha.

      Yes, I’d imagine on your land it must feel wonderfully freeing. A friend sent me a photo of her cabin the what looks like the woods. So jealous of both of you! But I know it’s all a journey and one day I hope to get there, too.

      And I know what you mean about conspiracy theory, sometimes I hear myself and wonder if I’ve lost my mind, but then I have to remember, no, much of the world has ๐Ÿ˜›

      Like

      1. Yip, clearly much of the world has lost their mind, Lani. ๐Ÿ™‚
        I am deeply grateful for where I am, and hope you too will get there one day. Hold on to that dream, whatever form it takes, because trust me, it is possible, even if it isn’t clear how you will get there now. I’ve dreamed of living the way I’m living now for twenty years.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Singapore is currently on restrictions with the increase of unlinked cases over the last few weeks. Schools are closed for now, and people are encouraged to work from home. The atmosphere is more sombre, malls are quieter, socialising is restricted.

    I think many people here are experiencing some degree of frustration and sadness, as they are, I’m sure, in Thailand as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so over it. ๐Ÿ˜› There has been a more concerted effort to get ppl vaccinated. I think now the govt has realized that they missed the opportunity of getting their population vaccinated for tourism when the numbers were low. Day by day…stay safe and healthy Ju-Lyn!

      Like

      1. Itโ€™s tough to make these decisions especially when things change so swiftly. Youโ€™ve got the right of it, Lani: day by day. Be safe & well!

        Like

  10. This is really, really interesting to read and I had a look at the paper. It does have a valid argument, and so the points you raised. It make sense how without a good internet connection in lockdown times, it is so easy to feel isolated. Indeed this past year and a bit the divide between the rich and poor is so prominent – and the latter including middle-class probably feel more isolated than the former. Some people also feed on other’s energy and connections to feel like they belong in this world.

    Personally, as someone who likes me alone time a lot, I thrived in lockdown and realise I am one of the lucky ones. I would have liked to have spent it with family but because of a few things, we had to live in quite a few different households. There was one point where I took annual leave from work and was locked down at home just by myself, and really had minimal interactions. It made me feel so much more energised and I got a lot done creatively and improve my lifestyle. I guess I’m a bit weird lol ๐Ÿ˜› Hope you are doing alright over there, Lani. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The study did make me wonder about people who feel more comfortable by themselves, introverts, etc.

      But generally speaking, we are social animals who learn and pick up social cues from each other. This also has changed due to social media, smart phones, and folks experiencing less ‘face to face’ time.

      It’s all new territory, which lockdown exacerbated. Obviously some of us did thrive or managed well. I think one of the big components is even if we enjoy alone time, we have the freedom to step outside or interact with others – having that freedom taken away, that choice, is/was probably one of the biggest psychologically damaging aspects that I believe can’t be overlooked.

      For the first 2 lockdowns my husband and I did well. We’re creatives who spend a lot of time at home, but now, under the 3rd with having to make due under continued financial duress and lack of long-term contact, it’s a bit more challenging. These things are cumulative. I used to get my ‘social’ needs met at the workplace, and how I’ve had about 7 days of it so far this year… and that’s a bit extreme, even for a homebody like me.

      But I’m always glad to hear when folks made it work for them and continue to do so. Of course, right now, my friends and family in the west are coming out of it so that’s good news.

      Like

      1. That is a good point, psychological damage is something that affected many over the course of lockdowns. Freedom is something valuable, giving us the space to express our personality and emotions.

        Hope your lockdown this time round goes as seamlessly as possible. Our lockdown just got extended by another week today. Some plans have been put to the side but other than that, but we are not complaining and thankful for what we got.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. That sounds like an interesting study, I’ll make sure to come back to it to read it properly. Since I believe that most people are already quite dumb when it comes to being aware of politics, environment issues, human rights etc. I can only accept that the various lockdowns increased the phenomenon. People around here seem to care more about their chances to go on holiday than about how people in India survive the new mutation and its spread to Europe. Just think of all the money people spend to go on holiday that could be used to produce more vaccine! I get literally sick thinking about it for too long.
    Germany’s currently opening up again and I admit that I look forward to go shopping without having to do an Antigen test before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think most folks have a tendency to stick to their own social circle, news, and localized world — after all, there’s only so much a brain can hold! but I understand what you’re saying.

      It probably does come down to values. How important is TRUTH? HONESTY? EDUCATION? etc. And also, most of us operate within our own interests, probably one of the reasons why we don’t really ‘care’ what’s happening over there. Plus, how much are we expected to do/help? etc.

      I don’t know. But I’m glad Germany is opening up again. My god, the world has been at a grinding halt for too long. And I’m so sick of wearing a mask!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, me too! Especially with summer finally being here, wearing a mask is a bit ugh. And don’t get me started on the ear situation! Mine hurt like hell from the elastics and the sticking out bit just sucks! I look like I could be Prince Charles’ illegitimate daughter! LOL! ๐Ÿ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

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