By Julia Maher ’23
There’s no doubt that the coronavirus has changed us in many ways. It has sickened nearly half a million people globally and killed over 20,000. It has restricted air travel and caused many small businesses to suffer financially. It has forced countries and some US states to lock down. But, perhaps most universally, it has required everyone to practice “social distancing,” an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus by limiting contact with other people as much as possible. Inevitably, this has caused many people to feel socially isolated and maybe even depressed. However, one way people can remain connected socially is through the use of technology, specifically social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and also conference apps like Zoom, FaceTime or Skype. For some people, in fact, it is the only way to remain connected. These apps have allowed people to nourish their relationships with family and friends, which is an essential part of life for most people.
Arguably, this dynamic is the complete opposite of how our society viewed technology prior to the coronavirus outbreak. In recent years, there has been a growing disinterest and distrust of technology, especially social media apps like Facebook. It was widely regarded by many people as the “bad guy” and as a threat to building true, enduring social connections with other people. Through the disclosure of inordinate amounts of personal information, it even proved to be a threat to one’s safety. Other people pointed to the idea that social media could have led to a rise in mental illness, like depression and anxiety. They argued that our constant use of social media leads us to compare our lives to others’, which makes us think that everyone is living their best lives and nothing is wrong.
Now, however, many people rely on technology solely to maintain friendships and, ultimately, stay healthy mentally. Perhaps it is especially important for college students to utilize technology to its fullest potential in order to maintain friendships and relationships over long distances while in quarantine. It is pretty devastating for most college students to be required to return home because one of the most important aspects of college is social life. Since college students are stuck at home, they must use social media and conference apps to stay connected socially and nourish their mental health.