Socializing While Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

How students are keeping in touch with each other during quarantine.

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Thanh Dao ’20

Bronx Science students use online programs and websites to spend time with their friends. Thanh Dao ’20, Audrey Hill ’20, Sadia Rahman ’20, Harper Learmonth ’20, Andy Geagan ’20, and Nayu Shimo ’20 frequently schedule Zoom calls to hang out, catch up, and play online games together.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still going strong, and it is incredibly important for people to practice social distancing in order to reduce the spread of the virus. Current social distancing measures have been effective in reducing the rate of infection. As Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said to The Today Show, “it is highly likely that we’re having a definite positive effect by these mitigation things that we’re doing — this physical separation — so I believe we are going to see a downturn in [coronavirus hospitalizations].” 

But despite the optimistic results, it is important to continue with these measures to prevent a resurgence of cases. “We better be careful that we don’t say, ‘OK, we’re doing so well we can pull back.’ We still have to put our foot on the accelerator when it comes to the mitigation and the physical separation,” Dr. Fauci said. Mitigation, or social distancing, does not just mean avoiding going to school or work — it means that people should not go outside, especially to public places, unless absolutely necessary, and even then, interaction with others must be limited as much as possible. 

While we all do our part (no matter how small or pointless it may feel) to help with the COVID-19 crisis, many people feel lonely without the frequent social interactions that usually take up a significant part of their lives. Now that schools are closed and students have transitioned to online learning, they no longer get their daily dose of time with their friends and classmates. Traveling to meet even one other person would put themselves and others in danger.

Technology and social media have already redefined how people communicated, enabling us to communicate with one another remotely at any time of the day through phone calls, video chat, and text messages. Now, these remote interactions are the only options that people have to spend time with their friends, and millions of people have embraced these virtual methods of “hanging out.”

Bronx Science students have been using many types of communication, ranging from social media to video games, in order to stay connected with their friends, during the quarantine period. Abir Hossain ’21, for one, uses Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Discord, and PS4 Party to talk with others on a daily basis. “I can’t socialize as much as I would like, but I appreciate what I can do,” Hossain said.

Students continue to use social media platforms with which they were already familiar, such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger. “I like Instagram the most because it is very clean and simple, and I already use it all of the time,” Bhaskar Chakrabarti ’22 said. He feels that these “meetings” provide a sense of normalcy. “Usually [my friends and I] are just catching up, and it doesn’t feel too much different than before,” Chakrabati said. Victoria Jung ’20 agrees, favoring Facebook Messenger to stay connected with her friends. “I can literally send anything to my friends, whether I want to share a post from other social media platforms or just update them about what is going on in my life right now,” Jung said. 

One of the most popular communication methods used during quarantine has been the video call application Zoom. This program has been used to hold classes, business meetings, and even weddings. With its easy-to-use interface, its large capacity for meeting members, its ability to send scheduled meeting links, and its now free and unlimited calls, Zoom has gained over 300 million daily users as of early April 2020.

Zoom is favored by many students, as they use it to gain much-missed face-time with their friends. Even though nothing can beat genuine human contact, video chat is certainly a helpful substitute to combat loneliness.  “[Social distancing] has definitely been very hard, especially because I’m a very physically affectionate person, and I feel like nothing can really replace hugging or holding someone. But at least seeing my friends’ faces and hearing their voices helps a lot,” Ananya Roy ’20 said.

Although some students may be using quarantine as an opportunity to take time for themselves alone, many find it incredibly important to stay connected. “We are social creatures, and require human interaction,” Hossain said. “Isolation can be extremely detrimental to one’s mental health, and especially when we are cooped up at home without the physical support of our friends,” Roy said.

Time with friends can also be a welcome distraction or change of pace. “Interacting with other people is better than being alone all of the time,” Thanh Dao ’20 said. “And sometimes you need a break from your family.” 

Whatever one’s reason or method of socializing, we can all agree that we are lucky to have so much technology in the year 2020 to help us adapt to the aloneness that we must face as we do our part to help reduce the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is heartwarming to see people finding new ways to come together during this difficult time. Roy said, “It’s important to maintain those close friendships and relationships as best as we can, so that we can all be there for each other.”

“It’s important to maintain those close friendships and relationships as best as we can, so that we can all be there for each other,” Ananya Roy ’20 said.

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