Social Distance Has Made Us More Social Than Ever


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With the current situation, isolated and stuck inside, I have found myself in a seemingly passionless void; angry, despondent, and more anxious than ever. 

It’s hard not to feel scared and alone right now as it is, but being an only child with parents who are essential workers has made the dreadful situation even more unbearable. 

Currently as a nation, we are being asked to stay home, to self-quarantine, to social distance. With a crumbling economy and millions of lives at risk, most are following the prescribed guidelines, but the truth is that social distancing is hard. For many, myself included, there is a sense that we have been cut off from our lives and our loved ones. 

I want to be at school with my friends. I want to be spending Easter with my family. I want to be cheering on the Phillies in person, eating ice cream out of tiny plastic helmets, and enjoying the soft spring weather. Instead, I’m spending my days physically alone and attached to my computer. Life, as we knew it before, is gone, and for some of us, it will never be the same again. 

However, as much as it hurts to be separated and isolated, we must acknowledge how this situation has connected us and made us more social. Whether by Zoom, text, or Facebook, while it may not be in person, it feels like overall social interactions have increased. 

For example, every Sunday, my extended family has dinner on Zoom. People call in from New York, Boston, Greece, Belgium, and Nigeria. We talk for hours about how we are managing work and handling the pandemic. We smile and laugh.

For the most part, unless I’m on vacation with them, I never connect with my cousins who live in Europe and Africa, but now, despite the current barriers, I am connecting with them more than ever.

I’m even talking more to my family who I usually see more often. While I used to call my grandparents routinely every Saturday morning, now, I talk to them every day. I remember to call them, and they’re more inclined to check in on me. 

Furthermore, despite the physical separation, as a people, we have never had so much in common. Everyone, from state to state and even country to country, is experiencing a similar phenomenon. Whether it’s a lack of pasta and paper products or it’s communal cabin fever, it has never been easier to relate to strangers.

While both my UT Austin Admitted Students Day and Summer program were canceled and moved to online platforms, the UT Austin Admitted Students Facebook page has been more active than ever. I’ve been able to start conversations with people all over the country and had the chance to Zoom and grow closer with my specific honors program despite our distance. 

Nevertheless, face-to-face interactions are special, and it would be wrong to assume that social media could ever replace physically being with others. Connection over the internet simply cannot recreate the feeling of connecting in person, of embracing family or dancing with friends.

Moreover, not everyone can interact online. The elderly tend to struggle with learning new technology, and those who don’t have access to a computer or stable wifi are at an extreme disadvantage. Being able to be social during social isolation is a privilege that not everyone can afford.

It’s in our nature to be social. We cannot allow this period of distance to break us. In whatever ways we can, we must engage with each other. 

If you can, text, Zoom, and talk more. Try to check in with friends more frequently. Try reaching out to those in your class or family who you aren’t as close to. This time is hard for everyone. No one wants to feel alone. Despite the difference and the distance, we must continue to socialize.