I spent just 4 days in office in last 12 months before the lock-down again kicked in India. I miss the casual conversations.
And it’s not just work small talk that we’re missing out on. Chatting with strangers out in public can also prove valuable—though it’s now increasingly rare. Gillian Sandstrom, a psychologist at the University of Essex, conducted one study that found that, when people engaged more with a barista—smiling, making eye contact, conversing—they felt a greater sense of community belonging. In another, her data showed that, the more people mingled with acquaintances or strangers in a day, the better their mood and sense of connection. Sandstrom observed that, in a normal prepandemic day, people interacted with an average of eleven acquaintances; university students interacted with sixteen. But, now, talking with more than two or three people a day seems inconceivable.