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Both introverts and extroverts face challenges while social distancing

Arizonans turn to social media to connect while being told to stay home.

PHOENIX — You’ve probably seen the comical memes by now, introverts claiming bragging rights about having a leg up when it comes to this whole social distancing thing. But experts are saying not so fast.

As Arizonans are told to stay home, it’s not stopping them from staying connected. From friends getting creative with virtual happy hours to local restaurant favorites like Postino virtually sharing secret recipes and donating meals to children in need, the internet is creating community despite the coronavirus.

"Social media can really rescue us right now and can give us the means to socially connect with others," said Matthias Mehl, University of Arizona professor of psychology.

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Mehl added that we all need at least some human interaction, whether an introvert or an extrovert.

“I think it’s often assumed that social isolation may be kind of a dream come true for introverts," Mehl said. "I don’t think it’s that easy. I think effectively, introverts and extroverts run on the same social fuel."

Mehl believes both groups are facing new challenges. Extroverts are forced to work harder for that social fix. And introverts don't exactly have it easy either, with more people staying at home.

“You might find yourself overwhelmed by the close proximity of all of the other people," Mehl said.

Mehl added that he thinks the term "social distancing" is a regrettable choice of words to describe what the public has been asked to do to slow the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing may be a better way to describe what's happening.

Either way, whether you crave social interaction, or prefer a little more alone time, one thing is clear – connection is key. And social media has been one of those key ways to help people continue to interact safely. 

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