Socializing in Socially Distant Times:

Human beings, like many of our close evolutionary relatives, are at our core social creatures, but right now, for many of us, socializing has become much much harder.

It can be hard to understand how best to make time for community and social interaction while stuck at home, but social instincts are so important to our health and wellbeing, they are programmed into us!

The Power of a Face:

Recent research has shown that people have specialized neurons in our visual cortex and frontal lobe designed for recognizing faces. In fact, we are better at recognizing human faces and emotions than just about anything else around us.

Facial recognition has helped people effectively cooperate so that throughout millenia we have been able to work together to survive. That may be why even infants can recognize and are drawn to faces, especially expressive ones.

And it makes us happy to! When we see someone smile, our neurons activate and send all the signals they can to make us feel the same happiness as the person we are looking at.

How to Stay Calm, Close, and Connected:

So how can we make sure that we are getting that facial recognition stimulus that brings so much joy to our lives? Here are a couple suggestions:

  • Use video calling apps for meetings rather than phone conferences
  • Schedule virtual hang outs with friends, maybe a video call happy hour?
    • You can use apps like zoom, skype, or google hangouts
  • Take time for socially distant walks if you are able

We may need to be physically distant, but now more than ever we need to be socially together.




Bar-Ilan University. “Neurons in the human visual cortex that respond to faces.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2019. <>.


Powell, Lindsey J., Heather L. Kosakowski, and Rebecca Saxe. “Social Origins of Cortical Face Areas.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 22, no. 9, 2018, pp. 752-763. ProQuest,, doi: