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Letís stop self-isolating when we no longer have to self-isolate

By Ashley Humphrey - posted Monday, 12 October 2020

The prospect of transitioning completely out of a state of lockdown would undoubtedly be a very welcome one to all Victorians right now. For many, life, void of the restrictions put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19 circa March of this year, now seems like an eternity ago.

This was of course a time when the dregs of Australia's warmer months allowed for countless large-scale events and gatherings to thrive right across the country, with masses also poised to begin their annual pilgrimage to football stadiums across the nation as the countries various football seasons were set to commence.

Such an active events scene outwardly portrays the image of a socially engaged nation, justifying our self-classification as a country of people who enjoy doing life together.


Semblances of this title are indeed very true, with Australians well renowned for their eager willingness to flock to big events and embrace a good time. And yet despite this propensity to congregate socially in the external, there exists a mounting array of research on Australian's social trends that paints a rather different picture about our true social orientations.

A range of cross-cultural data has shown that Australians are today less engaged in community life than ever before, and also more likely to adopt 'individualistic' social values when compared to generations past. Individualistic values refer to a preference for independence, pursuing one's own personal goals above the needs of a community, and maintaining relationships with others when the costs do not outweigh the benefits.

Indeed there are many advantages to living in a society where such values prevail, which include the freedoms we have to organize our lives in any way we like, to pursue our own personal goals and to construct our own social environment.

Recent findings however indicate that socially orienting oneself in such a way may actually comprise a range of subtle detriments as well that can be harmful to our psychological wellbeing.

For instance researchers have challenged the individualistic movement we see in developed countries like Australia, for the role it has played in damaging people's connections to their communities, social cohesion, and the overall strength of one's social support networks.

Further, research theorises that the hierarchical and competitive ethos that have become embryonic of an individualistic society have also contributed to a culture of self-promotion, narcissistic tendencies and a heightened self-sufficiency.


And yet, such realities are somewhat covered up in Australian culture by the fact that we appear in the external very active in social life, as evidenced by our enthusiasm for major events, such as live music, festivals, and sporting events.

The research would suggest that our propensity to turn out to these events acts in part as a façade to the fact we are less socially engaged with one and other than ever before.

The outcomes of this might suit a person just fine, they can drift through life spending time with select groups of people, only if and when they may feel like it.

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This article was first published on Federation University Newsroom.

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About the Author

Ashley Humphrey is a research psychologist and lecturer at Federation University, as well as CEO of the JET Network, an organisation that delivers seminars addressing the topic of values and mental health to thousands of young people every year.

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