Snapchat’s company Snap Inc. released a study to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic and global issues have impacted friendship. They interviewed 30,000 people across sixteen countries—including Malaysia.
In the results of the study, 31% Malaysians said they’ve felt lonely since the pandemic started, which according to Snapchat is 10% higher than pre-COVID-19. A third of people surveyed also said that pandemic has affected their friendships (about 35% surveyed).
54% of Malaysians say that social distancing has led to them not feeling as close to their friends. Nearly half of those (46%) surveyed agreed with the statement that they “felt more distant from friends because they couldn’t spend time in-person”.
“People perceive friendships as important relationships and idealise a close friend as a person whom they trust, love unconditionally, feel comfortable with, and show their real self to. Self-disclosure is a part of the process of building the qualities of intimacy in which disclosing self and intimacy are associated with high levels of trust, and people usually relate intimacy by keeping ‘others’ at a distance,” said Dr. Nur Hafeeza Ahmad Pazil, Senior Lecturer of Anthropology and Sociology at Universiti Sains Malaysia.
It’s not all bad
However, there is a slight upside to isolation—54% are making an intentional choice to reach out to friends that they haven’t spoken to in a while. A majority (81%) say they are using online channels to communicate more than they would have before COVID-19.
59% of people would also have deeper conversations, rather than conversations focusing on surface-level topics. Snapchat also revealed that digital communications help a vast majority (85%) maintain their relationships, regardless of age.
Additionally, 29% of Malaysian respondents have lost touch with a close friend. But 59% of those say they would like to rekindle their relationship. As for the ways Malaysians reach out, 52% would send a photo of a shared memory, 49% would send a photo which reminded them of their friend, and 44% of Malaysians said that the best way to start a conversation is to send a funny meme or GIF.