Online social interaction imperative to maintain during quarantine

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GRAPHIC BY TARA VASANTH / THE FLAT HAT

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that everyone stay at a minimum six feet away from each other — something quirkily dubbed social distancing. When I first heard that term, I chuckled a little bit, but I have come to take it seriously. However, it seems like some people are taking social distancing so seriously that they have even precluded themselves from all digital forms of social interaction. This might be an unpopular take, but “social distancing” certainly does not mean “drop off the face of the Earth and forget about all of your friends.”

In a time that is chaotic for basically everyone everywhere, it is important that we maintain some sense of normalcy and regularity in our everyday lives. For some, that means that they’ll wake up at 5 a.m. and go on their early morning run just like they always do. For others, including myself, it means that I want to experience some regular communication with people that I consider my friends — this doesn’t mean every day either, but if I haven’t heard from someone in three weeks, then that is certainly some cause for concern.

“To this end, I’m forever grateful to the people who spent hours of their lives watching “Eurovision” reruns or “The Circle” with me — and I will definitely remember who made the effort to keep in touch with me, as I’m sure others will as well.”

Luckily, we live in a highly interconnected age and there are lots of creative ways that we can stay connected with our friends. I was reminded of this upon opening Zoom, entering a meeting code and being instantly transported into the bedrooms of 20+ people — more specifically I landed into a Harry Styles-themed 20th birthday party. Though at this point the novelty has worn off and I detest all Zoom memes on Facebook, I still recognize that it has been an important tool in the fight to keep all of us together in the age of coronavirus — even if it’s an unstable application with known security concerns.

Since the latest projections make it seem like we’ll be stuck in quarantine for at the very minimum a few more weeks, it’s crucial that we continue to uphold our sense of community — whether it be virtual versions of lunch dates, movie marathons, book club, language exchanges, game night, birthday parties, club meetings or even just a general “let’s get together and hang out.” Even though it’s not the same as being in person, time spent together is still time spent together — regardless of the medium. To this end, I’m forever grateful to the people who spent hours of their lives watching “Eurovision” reruns or “The Circle” with me — and I will definitely remember who made the effort to keep in touch with me, as I’m sure others will as well.

Ultimately, it’s important to know that we’re all in this mess together and that with each other’s help, we’ll make it through. If you’re struggling, it’s important that you know that it’s okay to reach out to a friend for help and that you’re definitely not bothering them. From what I’ve gathered, most of us can really use the social interaction anyway — the quarantine is bringing out the most toxic character traits in us all.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, friendship and sunshine might truly be the cure-all for the coronavirus blues. It might not officially be what the Student Health Center prescribed — but if walked in the “Health Center Realness” category in the ballroom, it would definitely come out with tens.

Email Gavin Aquin Hernandez at gaaquin@email.wm.edu.