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UnDisciplined: a parasocial pandemic

Two children watch TV.

Just about everyone has experienced a shift in their relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people we didn't get to see as much, some people we saw a lot more of--for better or worse. But researchers are discovering that it wasn't just our relationships with people we know that changed, it was our relationships with people in the media we consume. This week we're talking about how the pandemic impacted parasocial relationships. Bradley Bond is a professor of communication studies at the University of San Diego. His research was recently published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 


Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling Lifespan with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning Longevity Plan with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, Superlative, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.