The lockdown due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus has had and continues to have a major impact on several aspects of our existence. While on the one hand, it has allowed us to spend more time with our families, rediscover lost values, devote more time to our hobbies and passions, it has also become a source of psychological stress, calling into question our identity and our ability to manage our emotions. Moreover, the health emergency has forced people to see each other only through the screen of a smartphone or a PC, which has revolutionized our habits in terms of time and space, leading to an upheaval of our social and personal world.
In my opinion, what has been most affected by the pandemic is interpersonal relationships. But what is a relationship? Generally speaking, it can be said that it expresses a bond between two or more people, but also a mutual bond because we are always dealing with people, and it is a fundamental aspect of our lives. But it must also be said that each of us adopts a personal interpretation of the relationship, giving it a subjective definition and value. This depends on the person we come into contact with, the context, and the timing of the relationship. Talking about relationships automatically leads us to the concept of communication. We talk about communication as if it were so easy and intuitive to understand what we are talking about, but in reality, it is a very complex process involving many psychological and social functions that are themselves complex. This process can be defined as “an observable interactive exchange between two or more participants, endowed with mutual intentionality and a certain level of awareness” (Anolli, 2003). Within the communicative process, the interpretation of the message between the interlocutors becomes important. This is referred to as intention-in-action (Ciceri, 2001), according to which the effectiveness of the interaction depends on the meaning derived from the reciprocal interpretation at an intentional level. In other words, communication involves a communicator and a receiver, whose roles are interchangeable, implementing intentional, reciprocal, and conscious dynamics. So how can we maintain our relationships, our communications without the possibility of seeing each other? In this period of profound crisis, technology has once again confirmed itself, as in recent years, as concrete and fundamental aid for dealing with the complex situations we find ourselves living. The question therefore arises: <<how does technology support us during the Covid-19 emergency? First of all, the most obvious advantage is that it allows people, organizations, and society to maintain their social network even if in different ways, through the use of communication platforms such as Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc… This certainly does not replace the direct relationship, but it is a good compromise from a social point of view. In this sense, we speak of mediated communication as those “forms of communication between two people through a technological tool, which carries out a digital processing of information” (Riva, 2012). Regarding man’s interaction with technology, Anolli states that “each subject chooses whether or not to be a communicator, but can choose whether and in what way to communicate” (Anolli, 2002). In this sense, media represent mediating devices, facilitating the communication process through an indirect perception of the other (mediated). Secondly, the use of innovative technology, Virtual Reality (VR), can be a concrete and fundamental help to face this complex situation. It has been used for years in the psychological field, especially in the clinical, educational, sporting, and social context, with very good and promising results for the future. VR is a technology that, thanks to a visor, allows immersion in highly realistic virtual environments, characterized by involvement, interaction, and participation, within which the user becomes the active creator of his own experience. Today, there are many 360° videos on the web (YouTube, Facebook) that allow virtual journeys to the most unexpected places. With virtual reality, we can train our minds, strengthen our skills, through personalized training for each of us. What makes the difference, however, is not only the technology as it is understood: in fact, it is extremely important how to design and organize a mental training program integrated with a technological medium. This is exactly what VRAINERS aims to do: in addition to offering interactive content, our team’s main objective is to create innovative, dynamic, and personalized learning methods. VRAINERS makes it possible to create cutting-edge, person-centered training, where the winning aspect is the combination of technology and mental training. Thanks to this, we can start to live again those spaces of our daily life and recover the sense of community that disappeared during the quarantine period. Technologies today have led to extraordinary results in other fields, even outside the psychological one, but, despite the many advantages, we must be careful how we use them. On the one hand, special attention must be paid to the dynamics of medium use, which can turn new media into opportunities. Otherwise, technological innovation may become not only an obstacle but a difficult enemy to manage. In conclusion, I would describe technology as a bomb ready to explode: if it is used by the right people, competent, and in the right way, it can be managed and prevented from exploding, i.e. from leading to irreparable consequences.
Riva G.(2020), Tecnologie Positive: Come usare la tecnologia per superare il disagio psicologico del Coronavirus.
Licini (2017), La relazione in psicologia.
Villani D., Riva G., Gaggioli A., Positive Technologies for enhancing wellbeing: intervention proposal 2015.
Riva G. (2012), Psicologia dei nuovi media, il Mulino, Bologna.
Degree in psychological sciences and techniques from the University of L’Aquila. Master’s degree in Psychology of Well-being: empowerment, rehabilitation, and positive technologies, at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan. Master’s degree in Sport Psychology. Specialized in the use of Positive Technologies applied to different psychological fields, conducting an experimental study on cognitive enhancement and technical-motor gestures on young competitive tennis players through an integrated training of mental training and virtual reality.