By Joseph D’Andrea
The Covid-19 pandemic not only affected the health of the global community, but the relationships within them. To look on the bright side of matters, the pandemic emerged at a point in history in which the world as a whole was no stranger to virtual forms of communication, from something as interactive as social media, to even a simple text message or email. Nevertheless, an adjustment was necessary in order to keep health risks at bay, while attempting to remain intimate with friends in some sense—utilizing online platforms like social media.
As seen on a grand scale, online platforms that provided interaction such as Zoom took off during the height of the pandemic. Social networks as a whole, as well, saw a significant rise in screen time by users since 2020. An informational graph provided by Statista shows that the average daily time spent on social networks rose during the pandemic. From 2019 to 2020 alone, there was an increase of nine minutes per day by U.S. users, and the 65-minute average has remained consistent since then.
An article in “The New Yorker” magazine from June 2021 titled “What Did Covid do to Friendship?” expressed how not only friendships, but communication as a whole was affected during the height of Covid-19’s presence.
“Good conversation,” the article reads, “is necessary glue for any friendship. But, given the attenuation of social engagements during quarantine, there often seemed to be less and less to say to one another. I’m reminded of a long-distance college boyfriend, with whom each subsequent phone call felt more and more like a chore, until we stopped talking altogether.”
In a poll put out by The Delphian to Adelphi students, 88 percent of participants agreed that they felt a difference in communication with friends during the pandemic. The results of the poll are highly reflective of the strain the pandemic put on friendships. For college students, this was especially the case, being that commuter students in particular felt both physically and emotionally disconnected from campus life. The importance of feeling a part of a community is crucial, and so this is where social media emerges in the big picture of the pandemic. Adapting to anything in life can be difficult, but college students at the very least felt an upper-hand since they are a part of a technology-centric generation.
In another poll posing a similar question, 68 percent of students claimed that social media helped them cope with the pandemic. Jacquelyn Smiley, ‘21, a sociology major with a minor in African Black and Caribbean studies, agreed with the majority opinion.
“I relied more heavily on social media,” said Smiley. “My friends were—and still are—constantly texting each other now, and we are missing out on certain details of each other's lives that we would know or notice in person but can't due to everything being virtual… I feel like technology was a great advantage. We had streaming parties through apps, and would FaceTime, text or call each other when we wanted to relax, but it isn't the same as being in person.”
Going along the same lines, Kelly Andreuzzi, a junior and environmental science major, felt equally affected by the barriers set up by quarantine, but made the best out of the situation.
“It became difficult to socialize in general due to the compounding stressors of a global pandemic and a changing world,” she said. “During the pandemic, it was fun to play games with friends remotely. My club, the Environmental Action Coalition, would sometimes play online Pictionary together to pass the time… Virtual games really helped me work through the new barriers and challenges of the pandemic. It was a way to socialize and have fun… Being familiar with platforms [like Discord] made staying connected easier.”
From my personal experience, I endured the same challenges regarding communication that others faced, however, I differ in that I do not use social media. Although that may be the case, I was able to remain in touch with my friends through text messaging, and this aided greatly in preserving some friendships that may have fallen through as a result of a lack of in-person-communication. I am grateful for the amount of technological availability that exists, and it surely made my time during the pandemic simpler to navigate socially.
The global pandemic created many obstacles for everyone of every age, but the fortunate presence of technology allowed for some relief to the stress of being separated from others in a time of uncertainty.