Human beings are inherently social by nature – relying on relationships and social interaction for their mental health and wellbeing. And yet, 2020 saw a major challenge to maintaining social connections.
The Covid 19 crisis required all of us to limit, and for some completely cut, face to face contact with friends and family. Within a surprisingly short period, vast swathes of the workforce adopted digital alternatives to both working and socialising, quickly adjusting to persistent zoom chats throughout the day, while considerably upping time spent across chat apps, social media and streaming platforms. These technologies have proved a double-edged sword—allowing us to stay astonishingly connected, while simultaneously distanced—providing synthetic substitutes for direct interaction and tactile ways of being with others.
Covid 19 created a newly troubling experience of isolation for some, while compounding a pre-existing epidemic of loneliness in the UK. Age UK predicts that by 2026, there will be 2 million people over 50 in England who will often feel lonely, having a dramatic impact on their wellbeing and quality of life.
As society continues its recovery from Covid 19, the importance of reconnecting with others is ever-more apparent. Despite current challenges, visions for the future are largely optimistic, as a visceral return to collective experience sparks the imagination. There is, some claim, a second “roaring twenties” on the horizon.
Through its 2021 programme, Arts by the Sea will explore the concept of the human being as a fundamentally social creature—a tribal animal—while highlighting the importance of celebration, festivity and connecting with others.