Online Communication, Deeper Topics: How Pandemic Cemented Strong Friendships in Lockdown

·2-min read

The pandemic has had a very strong impact on the economy and the health sector -- but what about interpersonal relations? The lack of physical contact and shared experiences have inevitably shaken our perception of friendship. That's one of the conclusions drawn by the second "Friendship Report" conducted by Snapchat. The survey showed that Covid-19 changed relationships with close friends for over a third of respondents.

Alter Agents and social network Snapchat interviewed 30,000 people across sixteen countries. The report showcased the impacts that the Covid-19 crisis, and in particular, lockdowns, have had on friendships.

Although these relationships were transformed by Covid-19, the outcomes were not necessarily negative. Among the 33% of respondents who noted friendship changes with the onset of the pandemic, 47% stated currently feeling closer to their friends.

New technologies helped to maintain connections among friends. Two out of three respondents said they used online channels to communicate more often than before the pandemic, and 49% claimed they had given up light topics to focus on deeper conversations.

A Strong Feeling of Loneliness

While friendships have generally become stronger since the onset of the pandemic, or remained unchanged, many respondents noted feelings of loneliness. Two-thirds of survey participants reported feeling lonely since the beginning of the pandemic -- 8% higher than pre-COVID-19.

"Although friendships continue to be maintained through apps, phone calls, and other mediated forms of communication, the disembodied element takes away from the full experience of friendship for many," said Laavanya Kathiravelu, one of the 17 international friendship experts who contributed to the report.

Love and Unemployment Also Change Friendships

The pandemic has considerably changed the way we interact with our friends, but it's far from being the only culprit. Finding love also had detrimental consequences on friendship. Four international respondents out of ten stated that a new romantic relationship had a detrimental impact on their friendships. The same goes for people who became parents (41%), and the figure is even worse for those who had lost their jobs or were facing financial difficulties (51%).

Other factors can weigh heavily on friendships, like physical distancing, which is not inherent to lockdown: moving to a new town (53%), to a new neighborhood (39%), going to college or moving away for professional reasons (50%).

For this survey on friendship, Alter Agents interviewed 30,000 people aged between 13 and 40, representing national demographics of the following countries: Germany, Australia, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.