Κολέγιο CITY College
Main Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece
06 November 2020

The English Studies Department Concurs with Building a Sense-of-Belonging

Have you ever wondered what can help us grow as individuals, build attachments, communicate effectively, form identities, manage loneliness and, overall, help us live longer? Insights to these areas and more were provided in the Personal and Professional Development Seminar series offered by the English Studies Department. The seminar delivered today, Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, by Academic Director of Undergraduate Programmes and Lecturer in the Psychology Department, CITY College, Dr Vassilis Chatzimpyros, provides insights to the above questions in the seminar titled: “Sense of belonging: Challenges in connecting within a cyber world”; a seminar  that appears even more relevant and timely given the reality we have been and are currently facing.

Dr Vassilis Chatzimpyros seminar titled: “Sense of belonging: Challenges in connecting within a cyber world”

Drawing on scientific studies, Dr Chatzimpyros informs that longevity is observed and can be achieved via healthy instances of sense of belonging, in other words interpersonal relationships (family, friends, colleagues, etc) and group memberships that come to fulfill our basic need as humans, that of being social – amongst others – and that of interaction and communication. It is by establishing a sense of belonging that we build our identity, and we develop that identity through a sense of belonging.

As humans, we may and can belong to various social groups that give us a sense of who we are, that offer support and act as a protection mechanism. In these groups, we form attachments on many different levels that also contribute to our sense of belonging. As Dr Chatzimpyros informs, a lack of sense of belonging can certainly result in feelings of loneliness, detachment and feeling disconnected. These feelings can further contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression, frustration and even helplessness. One should also be wary of instances of a fake idea of sense of belonging.

The Internet and social media may have originally assisted in dispersing information and keeping people connected, but they can also contribute to this sense of detachment, feeling disconnected, lonely and may even prompt individuals to develop an identity clash. Dr Chatzimpyros emphasizes that if social media are used for two hours or more daily that can increase social anxiety, lower one’s self-esteem and increase chances of social isolation. This of course is not simply due to the overexposure we all have to the internet and social media given COVID-19 and the pandemic restrictions, but it ties back to developing an addiction to our online world and presence.

Focusing on this, Dr Chatzimpyros highlights that there can be a clash between the real world and the online world that we as individuals and as group members experience. That clash is intensified if we consider fake realities, photoshopped images, misinformation, overload of information that does not allow us to critically examine and process the information that we come across. As a result, the online world can certainly be a place to establish a sense of belonging, particularly during times when real life social interaction is limited, but it can contribute to online addiction, loneliness, and hinder us from developing an actual and effective sense of belonging.

In times of crisis we are more vulnerable on a mental, social, occupational, and even economic level. We are uncertain about the present and future, things are thrown out of balance. It takes courage to state that not everything is ok, that there are not only going to be “happy Instagram moments” and take a step back to re-evaluate our perspectives and consider our response to various situations and how we want to deal with and manage those situations. Sense-of-belonging, as Dr Chatzimpyros confirms, can be that protective factor we need that can be achieved if we: build meaningful connections, foster wellness, find purpose in what we do, embrace healthy thoughts and seek help.

*In the spirit of establishing sense-of-belonging, CITY College not only offers its students the opportunity to join groups and expand their group memberships and attachments, it also offers opportunities for networking via seminars offered online and provides counselling services for those seeking help. More information

 

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