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Apprentissage | 15 Sep 2022

The paradoxical antidote to confinement: social connections

If we no longer want confinement to be an economic and social disaster, there’s one solution: creating connections. Good news, it’s easy.

Come! Put down your phone, write a letter, get involved in politics, tests, solidarity chains and analyses. You’ll break the monotony of confinement, embrace your talents, create a clearer vision of the world and contribute to projects of an alternative society that have been blossoming online. Believe that confinement can be an exceptional tool for social connections.

Whilst waiting for this new society to blossom, there is a lot of solitude and isolation. All of the smiles that we no longer see, things that we don’t learn, loves that aren’t born, rich encounters that aren’t made, because we only call the people we already know. And those who are the most vulnerable and isolated only know 1 social worker or the local shopkeeper. Today, far from having the advantage of being used to loneliness, they are living in a much more difficult confinement, because we’ve cut their small link to society.

There’s no easy response to this crisis. We don’t have a magic formula to prevent the next from happening, except realising that denial will not allow us to learn from our experiences. If we want to survive the next crisis (it’s certain that they will continue to happen), it’s time to recreate our social connections, the cement of our society.


Social connections, ok but how?


Politicians from (nearly) all sides keep telling us about ‘living together’, but the opportunities to create social connections with ‘the other’ (another generation, a foreigner, a person of a different race, a person that is handicapped) get smaller year after year. Digital networks are more likely to form social bubbles than bypass them, the price of rent accentuating spatial segregation, and we close the borders as a response. We abandon the rare efforts of coordination that are necessary (where even Europe, a pioneer of political collaboration, is falling into the trap).

So how do we recreate this social link that’s disappeared? Or how do we create it so that it withstands today’s ecological, socio-economical and sanitary challenges? Social connections are not only created by helping the more disadvantaged.

It is not just a matter of generosity or charity. It is a matter of creating a society where ‘the other’ is considered at least as an equal, seen as an asset because their difference enriches our perception of the world. There is a way to achieve this.

Promoting diversity in gender, belief, generation, language, culture. Working on inclusion, everywhere and all the time. This should be the mission of our public and private institutions. It is the only way to unite. To make a society, as we say.

For 8 short years, like its partners at the laboratoire de la fraternité, SINGA has created social connections, confidence and friendship between newcomers and their host society ; locals are those who feel instinctively or gradually like they’re at home. Newcomers are those who don’t yet have this feeling, those who came to enrich and renew the area with their diversity, talents and their concerns, their professions and their world champion football teams.

SINGA, in 20 cities around the world, connects 2, 10 or even 100 people each day, either because they have something in common or because they can contribute to the same project. In 22 days of crises and confinement in France, these connections have not been stopped. Mentors and entrepreneurs are working together to find economic solutions and preserve the social, economic and cultural impacts created in the last 4 years by our incubators. People who met at SINGA are offering guides of how to live, which every person in confinement should read! Millions of citizens who should have met in the events planned at Lyon, Montpellier, Paris and 7 other French cities, are now finding each other online … because the confinement cannot stop us from remaking the world together. On the contrary, it’s making the need to do so even more urgent and evident.

Come and speak with others! Write to us, call us, zoom or skype with one of our local groups. Become a buddy, a maker, a new creator of social connections, a contributor to our societal project. The ‘others’, it’s us and you. Come and enrich yourself, put yourself on the same level, the same bench, the same table (virtually still for some weeks), just to live and just to see. Come and create a society where ‘living together’ is no longer a matter of looking down on people who have less than us, but a matter of survival and intelligence. This is the objective of our telephone meetings, to remake the world that we entered into this week, 20 days after the start of the confinement, everywhere in France.

A society where social connections are at the heart of its policies, will not have millions of nursing homes or accommodation centers to ‘save’ in the next crisis. Mechanisms of mutual aid will have allowed accommodation centres to empty before getting contaminated, for seniors to temporarily move back in with their families and for the most vulnerable to find a place to stay that reassures them and gives them confidence in our system – putting an end to our ‘prisoner’ dilemmas. 

This crisis has brought to us the realisation that we need to live together to better survive being confined. 


David Robert