Coronavirus: Communication/ Neuropsychology:


The Impact of Coronavirus

on Digital Communication


Dr. Anna Rostomyan

University of Hamburg, Germany


Link for Citation Purposes:


We are living a century full of changes and challenges. The year 2020 has brought the Coronavirus pandemic that has affected all mankind and has upset the processes of human lives around the globe. As a result, in these times of crisis, it has become a real challenge to keep our activities going. Easing this challenge is the fact that several decades of Globalization have brought the world digital communication, fast, cheap and very efficient.


However, digitalization has both positive and negative sides; it has its benefits and pitfalls, its advantages and disadvantages. As for the positive sides, it makes it possible to get instant messages from your colleagues and friends from anywhere and to share your thoughts, projects and plans with them in an instant. Besides, it enables you to work without leaving your home and to organize your schedule accordingly. One of the main disadvantages of digitalization is that in case of making use of it very frequently it may affect your mental health and make you an introvert by means of isolating you from normal human one-to-one interaction. Yet, it is our firm belief that in case we use it to the normal degree, we will eventually only benefit from it.


During these times of quarantine, we are obliged to be self-isolated and to maintain social distancing, which can also damage our mental health as a result. Moreover, here digitalization comes to the forefront proposing its platform for communication and digital interaction, which will diminish our loneliness, sadness and anxiety. It gives us an irreplaceable opportunity to build social platforms and feel accomplished through our digital activities. By means of keeping social distancing in real life, we can build social bonds on the Internet that will help us build social networks both for work and for our personal life.


In terms of schools and universities, it should be noted that these specters of human activity have been affected the most, as the students do not have the opportunity to attend real classrooms and to be delivered content by their educators, to visit libraries, to engage in social discussions, debates and other literary clubs. Here again digitalization comes to the fore and lands a helping hand in solving the situation. Nowadays, lecturers, teachers, tutors and other educators across the whole Globe practice on-line teaching through on-line platforms, such as Zoom, Skype, Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, etc. Even Yoga classes have gone digitalized through Zoom now.


There are also many interesting and challenging on-line Quiz platforms available for teachers to make interesting and informative quizzes for their students, such as, which can be accessed anytime from anywhere through the Internet. We have interviewed teachers and lecturers in Armenia from different schools and universities, posing them the question whether they use digital platforms in their teaching during Coronavirus times and here are the results that come to prove that the rise of digital instruments is vivid as compared to former studies the use of digital platforms has drastically risen.



Chart 1: the use of digital instruments in times of Coronavirus


In these times of digitalization, the human self also becomes digitalized and acquires certain traits typical of only digitalization. Going back to the theory, we can state that R. Frager and J. Fadiman (2006) explain that according to William James, the founder of Neuropsychology, there are at least five different kinds and layers of our very own self, which are essential when dealing with people. The five-folded depiction of our gselfh is briefly presented below:


Our gSelfh: this is the inner feeling of our being every morning we wake up. All the psychological processes are rooted in this perspective of the gneuro-selfh. This layer of the gselfh is discreetly, continuously, and incessantly present in all the other layers of our gIh (Knowles & Sibicky 1990).

           The Biological gSelfh: this is our biological, physical being which is embodied in our heritage of our ancestors, our DNA. The construction, outer figure of our gselfh and all the interrelated psychological processes form our biological gselfh. This unique gshiph carries us until we pass away from this real world. This is our exceptional heart, our outstanding brain, our brilliant hands, our feet, our tongues, i.e. the physiological aspect of our individuality, which makes us different from one another. Our biological gIh can be viewed as the multiple composition of our real gIh.

           The Real (Material) gSelfh: this is the layer which encompasses all the objects which the individual identifies as composites of his/her own self, such as mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, children, grandparents, relatives, friends, etc. This means that the house you live in, your family and friends all they emerge into your greal selfh. The more a person identifies another person as identical with him/her, the better they become part of his/her gselfh. 

           The Social gSelfh: we happily or indulgently or not so happily get involved in the roles that life and fortune gift us. The same person can have a number of different roles, thus having diverse social gselvesh. These gselvesh may be consistent or may change and be variable depending on the situational context. According to James to act appropriately means to find the according social gselfh which corresponds to the needs of the aroused situation (Frager & Fadiman 2006: 21-26).

           The Spiritual gSelfh: this is the subjective inner essence of the personality. This element is co-existent and prevalent in all other layers of our gselvesh. William James very much wanted to find why we consider ourselves as something prior to the sum of all the other existing things surrounding us; thus, as a result of his investigations, he found out that it is some kind of gspiritual powerh. W. James was not fully assured of the definite existence of the gsoulh of human beings, but he supposed that the individual identification is not all.


He explained from his own experienced that there is a constant continuum of cosmic consciousness from which our individuality is separated by inconsistent layers where our other selves are kept as a boundless sea or reservoir (Murphy & Ballou 1960: 324).

In this respect, as we have formerly noted a new kind of the self comes to the fore, namely the gdigital selfh which bears the understanding how one acts and behaves in the digital area which is characterized by a number of typical features, e.g. very active, inactive, inert, etc. This can be considered a sub-brunch of the gsocial selfh which characterizes our interaction with our peer species. It should be noted that the gspiritual selfh should be taken good care of by means of meditation, prayers and spiritual self-analysis not to get lost in the digital era of robotism.


When speaking about the gspiritual selfh, we should like to mention that Pope Francis has declared the Armenian monk St. Gregory of Narek century mystic and poet revered in particular by Armenian Catholics, a Doctor of the Church. His designation of one of the highest church honors on an Armenian monk comes a few weeks before Francis celebrates a Mass to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks that some call the first genocide of the 20th century. The title of Doctor of the Church is reserved only for people whose writings have greatly served the universal church.



Pic.1: St. Gregory of Narek

gBook of Prayersh


His famous piece of writing is called gSpeaking with God from the Depths of the Hearth, in Armenian «Ի խորոց սրտից խաիսք ընդ Աստուծոց», i.e. gNarek – Book of Prayersh «Նարեկ» consists of 95 prayers. The sections of the book are called gPrayersh and begin with the lines gTalking to God from the Depths of my Hearth. In the Prayer 44, he mentions beautiful concepts depicting the creation of Jesus Christ and our own creation in accordance with the divine nature of God for which we are also supposed to create and evolve.


       Prayer 44 –

gBoundless God, direct son of God, creator of everything, Christ King, light for the darkened hearts of the unknowing, light who took human form like us, but are in essence like Him who sent You, whose form is miraculously revealed through ours. Blessed by your heavenly Father, who sent you and with whom you share glory for creation.h (translation by Thomas J. Samuelian)


Factually gNarekh is named after the author among the Armenian believersf circles. It was written in the last years of St. Gregory's life when he was suffering a debilitating illness. Toward the end he wrote, gcand although I shall die in the way of all mortals, may I be deemed to live through the continued existence of this book. This book will cry out in my place, with my voice, as if it were me (Prayer 88b-c)." So powerfully have these prayers cried out to the Armenian faithful people that for centuries they have been worn as healing talismans and placed under the pillows of the infirm and sick. Gregory, who lived around 950 to 1005, is considered one of the most important figures of medieval Armenian religious thought and literature. His Book of Prayers, also called the Book of Lamentations, is his best-known work which is considered to have healing power. And here, in times of Coronavirus what we can do is to pray to God to keep us safe from this malicious sickness.


In our everyday life we constantly communicate with people by means of preserving our own face and gselfh, even in the digital world. In this respect, the context of situation at hand in which a communicative act takes place gains a very outstanding role. Malinowski first coined the term gcontext of situationh in 1923. He claimed that: gExactly as in the reality of spoken or written languages, a word without linguistic context is a mere figment and stands for nothing by itself, so in the reality of a spoken living tongue, the utterance has no meaning except in the context of situationh (1923: 307). Indeed, language is always being applied in a multifaceted environment, which includes a great variety of items in itself and bears a very complex background, which is the only way of communication not only in the real, but also in the digital world. When we code and decode information both in real life and on the Internet, we are simultaneously performing a number of activities connected with 3 main aspects which are presented in the Figure 1 drawn below:


Figure 1: Contextual correlates of communication (Verschueren 1999: 76)


This figure well-illustrates that in the process of communication it is not only the language channel that bears the responsibility of producing and evaluating the intended messages, but there are also some other important phenomena that partake in this process. As we see, the communicative context involves several ingredients, which are: the mental world, the social world and the physical world, which is diminished to human-computer communication in case of digital communication. First of all, the information is being processed in the brain of the speaker. Secondly, he/she by means of language expresses those very thoughts explicitly or implicitly. However, it is very important to note that there are a lot of other factors that have an impact on the individual while processing this or that information in the brain which are respectively presented in the above designed figure. In fact, humans do not exist apart from each other, in other words we are not devoid of social connection, and thus our social world is always participating in the process of communication which is at our times the digital world having digital social networks and connections. Here, culture is of paramount importance since many factors connected with the social world are being governed by means of a number of culturally bound rules and conventions.


As we know, in order to interpret what is being conveyed in an act of communication, we have to look at various factors, such as: social distance and closeness and thus adhere to this or that grule of politenessh not to sound rude, inconsiderate or impolite (Yule 1996). For instance, to show the social distance between two people an English speaker who considers himself/herself as lower in status, uses forms of address that include a title and a last name, but never the first name unless they are associates or friends (e.g., Mrs. Brown, Dr. Johnson, Pr. Bush, but not John or Steven). This depends greatly on cultural habits which are passed from generation to generation. Thus, we may conclude that each nation has its own gprinciples of politenessh. The above mentioned examples illustrate the rules in English-speaking communities, whereas in Japanese there are much more forms of addressing which exactly reflect the distance between the interlocutors. Armenian, which, unlike English, has the gluxuryh of singular and plural personal pronouns (դուԴուք), reflects acts of politeness with the help of grammatical meaning of plurality. As Verschueren  states: g[c] many linguistic choices depend on relationships of dependence and authority, or power and solidarity, not only between utterer and interpreter but also between utterer and/or interpreter and any third party which either figures in the topic of the discourse or is otherwise involved.h (Verschueren 1999: 91). These rules of politeness should be applied to digital communication as well and the time zone should be by all means be taken into communication not be rude or impolite and to be trustworthy.



To conclude with, it is our firm belief that especially in the times of COVID-19, the importance of digitalization is more than ever so significant, as it helps us beat loneliness and solitude and to keep social interaction and communication, which is so important for our well-being and mental health. If we strive towards having a healthy digital communication routine, we will eventually go ahead of the time and not fall back because of quarantine and self-isolation, which hinder social interaction.



1.     Frager, R., & Fadiman, J. (2006) gPersonality and Personal Growthh Saint-Petersburg: Prime-Evroznak


2.     James, W. (1890) The Principles of Psychology. // Classics in the History of Psychology. An internet resource developed by Christopher D. Green of York University. Toronto, Ontario.


3.     Knowles, E., & Sibicky, M. (1990). Continuity and diversity in the stream of selves: Metaphorical resolutions of William James's one-in-many-selves paradox. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 76(4), 676-687.


4.     Malinowski, B. (1923). The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Languages. In C. K. Ogden, & I. A. Richards (Eds.), The Meaning of Meaning (pp. 296-336). London: K. Paul, Trend, Trubner.


5.     Murphy, G. & Ballou, R. (Eds.) (1960). William James on Psychical research. New York: Viking Press.


6.     Quandt T. (2012). Whatfs lest of trust in a network society? An evolutionary model and critical discussion of trust and societal communication // In P. Golding, H. Sousa, L. van Zoonen (Eds.) European Journal of Communication, volume 27 (1). UK: Sage Publications Ltd.


7.     Verschueren, J. (1999). Understanding Pragmatics. Amsterdam: Hodder Education Publishers.


8.     Williams, M. (2007). Building Genuine Trust through Interpersonal Emotion Management: A Threat Regulation Model of Trust and Collaboration across Boundaries. The Academy of Management Review Archive. 2(2), 595-621.


9.     Yule G. (1996). Pragmalinguistics. Oxford Introductions to Language Study, series editor H. G. Widdowson. - Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.




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