Senior Skylar Burkett's TikTok has over 200 followers!
Senior Skylar Burkett's TikTok has over 200 followers!

Social (Distant) Butterflies

May 17, 2020

If you have been taking the advised precautions for this quarantine, chances are you are yearning to see your friends and family pretty badly by now. You likely miss seeing people’s smiling faces, or hearing the laughter of children, or any one of the many things we are being starved of by social distancing. 

The good news is that we are not completely isolated. We have the ability to reach out to those we love through social media and technology. A large portion of all conversations we have in quarantine are over text or direct message. We talk to our friends over Snapchat. We interact with our peers by commenting on their Instagram posts. We report to class via Google Classroom. Where would we be without social media and technology during these unprecedented times? This question I like to ask my older family members and friends. 

Social media and technology are under constant scrutiny by older generations. They believe younger people spend too much time on their phones, tablets, and computers.Some people I’ve met won’t even say “social media” because they feel the phrase is an oxymoron. “How can you socialize through a phone?” they ask, in disbelief that you can make a connection without physically meeting with another person. Some are even afraid of technology as a whole. Senior Skye Burkett says that she thinks “one of the biggest fears that boomers have of social media is self privacy. They believe that you are basically signing your life away and all of your important information is now theirs.” 

Hopefully these kinds of views will be changed–or are already changing– during the quarantine. The very word “social” has gained a new meaning. A lot of social butterflies are sticking with their old ways but using social media to do it. Junior Ira Mercer says he has used “mostly texting, Snapchat, and Facetime.”

“It’s not quite the same as meeting with friends,” Mercer says. “But it is definitely the closest thing to it.”

As we venture further and further into the weeks of social distancing, the benefits of social media present themselves in ways that we have not previously seen.  Burkett says,“social media is the perfect way to get feelings and even your most wack ideas out to the world. Being able to share who you are, even when it’s not a global disaster, is very important.”

For example, let’s take a look at posting on Instagram. Imagine you post a picture of your pet. Just by putting a piece of yourself onto a social platform, you are inviting your followers to interact with you. You’ll receive likes, which indicate that your followers still care about you and your pet, despite not having seen you since the beginning of quarantine. Suppose someone comments something along the lines of “very cute!”. A little comment like this could make your day and perhaps even inspire you to say or do something nice for someone else. Positive feedback is a motivator for good deeds, no matter how you receive it.

Older generations like to say that we are dependent on these kinds of interactions to fuel our self esteem. However, quarantine has shown us that these likes and comments don’t feed into some kind of narcissism, but reinforce our faith in our peers, friends, and family. It is good for your brain to feel heard and seen in times like these, even if it is through a screen. Burkett says she and her boyfriend post a TikTok every night. 

“The grandparents get a kick out of what funny videos we can come up with. I think they look forward to it everytime,” Burkett said. 

Sometimes the best pick-me-up is knowing that you have made someone else smile. Burkett enjoys bringing a smile to her family and friend’s faces. She even posts a singing video on Facebook or Instagram to share her beautiful musical talents!

Twitter is another interesting place during this pandemic.  Of course, there will be disagreements about the politics of Coronavirus. But overall, Twitter has become a place to observe cute animals, recovering ecosystems, and efforts being made to make the world a better place. Before, spending an hour a day on Twitter would have seemed excessive to some. But when you take into account the good news and interesting interactions you can have on the app, that hour becomes a time of healing.

Without a doubt, the most notable forms of social media during quarantine are Facetime, Google Meets, and Zoom calls. These mediums allow us to have face to face conversations with the ones we miss the most. Virtual meetings with our teachers allow us to receive extra guidance when completing school work. Facetime has been providing people with means to speak to their loved ones that they are unable to see.

“My grandma lives at an assisted living place in Sewickley and we have been Facetiming her since no visitors are allowed during this time,” says Mercer. These kinds of unconventional interactions are keeping families close during these pressing times. Burkett has had a similar experience with Facetime calls.

“Since we’ve had a ton of birthdays and holidays in these past couple of months, we usually do a group facetime where we talk for about an hour with each other. We are actually extremely blessed and lucky to have the ability to communicate the way we do now.” Burkett said. She’s right! We are all extremely lucky to have these appliances and applications to keep us connected to each other.

Overall, this quarantine experience continues to reveal more and more positive things around us. Hopefully after this is all over, the older generations will have obtained a new appreciation for social media and technology and the connections they can create. 

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