Spotlight ~ Reasons You Should Try Social [Media] Distancing

You can cure your Coronavirus Sadness with just a bit of Social [Media] Distancing

Originally published on April 16, 2020

Social Distancing — the practice of keeping away from large gatherings/staying six feet away from others in order to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus that has now spread all over the world.

Wow… writing that sentence felt like I was back writing an essay for my twelfth grade dystopian literature course. I used to read about illnesses spreading around the world. About governments forcing their people to quarantine. About hospitals overflowing with the sick. About the numbers of fatalities rising. That was only ever in my books. But now it’s real.

News of the Coronavirus is everywhere. It has not, and it won’t, infect everyone, but it most definitely has infected every virtual outlet.

I wake up in the morning to emails informing me about the virus — cue the Adam Driver “every day I get emails” meme. I move on over to Twitter and almost every tweet is either reporting news on the virus or is a meme about how it is affecting the world. The toilet paper memes are not funny — just because you have the ability to buy necessities in bulk does not mean the rest of the world can.

Instagram is filled with inspirational posts from celebrities telling us to stay positive in quarantine while they sit in the comfort of their mansions in the valley. Then there are the sad senior posts (I am guilty of one) about how their final moments at college/high school vanished with one simple cancellation email. Facebook — yes, thank you Karen, for your input on the pandemic. You can stop calling it the Chinese Virus now. Go to Snapchat, those SnapMemories are the quickest form of torture if you ever want to feed those self-destructive tendencies. Make sure to send them to your friends too. That way you can suffer in isolation together, but virtually. Tik Tok — #quarantine #quarantinebuddies #coronavirus #fyp #virus #distancedance. Need I say more?

There is no escaping the virus, no matter how many times you wash your hands.

The minute you pick up that phone and open up a social media app, you are infected. The most common symptoms are crying, panic, fear, and stress. Sprinkle those with a little bit of quarantine loneliness and you have got yourself the common case of Coronavirus sadness.

Is there a cure to this sadness? I am sure if there simply wasn’t a pandemic that would do the trick, but unfortunately, it isn’t going to vanish into thin air. No matter how much we all wish that would happen. You know what can vanish into thin air? — Social Media. All it takes is for you to hold down that app icon, make it shiver in fear, and press “Delete App” in red. Poof! It’s gone. 

Now, this is not a cure to the anxieties and fears that the spreading of this virus can instill, but choosing to sign off can allow a certain level of freedom that we may be craving while in quarantine. Choosing to log off those social media accounts can release your constant fears of missing out, can strengthen relationships by forcing people to find more creative ways to connect with one another, and can allow one to reflect inward rather than constantly worrying to project outwards.

Fear of missing out, better known by the acronym “FOMO”, is a fear that was present way before social media infiltrated our lives.

People always fear that they are missing out on moments they aren’t having with others. This is a common fear, but it’s social media that allows this fear to become reality.

Before social media, the fear only existed in our heads. We were left with “what if’s” and “how comes”, but the minute we view that SnapStory, scroll down that feed, or watch that Tik Tok, we see that that fear is real and it is happening. The people you want to be with are making memories without you and there is nothing you can do about it because you are quarantined.

Now, before you all go cry while blasting your “I’m Sad” playlist, remember what social media tends to be — a representation of only the best sides of ourselves that we choose to let people see. That friend/family member that you miss, misses you too, and just because they chose to post their self-conducted image of a happy quarantine on their social media does not mean that they do not wish you were there with them. It is safest for everyone to stay in their homes during this time, and when all of this is over, you will reunite with the people you love again. Just in time to make new memories, too. So stop looking at your fears. It does you no good to obsess over things you can not control.

I understand that social media keeps us connected on many different levels, but there are other ways of connecting with people other than virtually.

In fact, I think you would be surprised to see what relationships can get stronger when there is a more authentic way of communicating, rather than over a virtual void.

Blame it on Jane Austen, but I am a sucker for a handwritten letter. And what better time than a quarantine, with no expiration date, to sit down and write a well thought out letter to your friends or family members. A letter written with a specific purpose can sometimes be the most authentic way to express one’s self. It requires you to physically sit down and write, in your best penmanship, a message that is only for the eyes of the receiver. There is a level of privacy that comes with a letter that lets one be open and honest, only leaving room for the relationship to grow and strengthen.

If you aren’t a fan of such an old fashioned way of communicating, you can always send a  spontaneous text message, call, and/or facetime. I know that text and video calls are still virtual, but they require real-time conversations, which builds relationships authentically. When you get the chance to see someone’s face, or hear their voice, the barrier of what is real and what isn’t is gone. Social media allows there to be a filter between the messenger and the receiver, letting the messenger hide whatever they are truly feeling. How can a relationship, no matter what type it is, be authentic when there is a virtual buffer?

Not only does social media allow there to be a buffer between people, but it can even create a buffer between yourself and the person people think you are.

Keeping up a happy, creative, artistic, positive lifestyle for your profile is an exhausting task, especially during a pandemic. Suddenly, every time you scroll down your feed you get frustrated because everyone else seems to be handling this worldwide tragedy a lot better than you are.

I know we have all heard of the phrase “fake it ‘till you make it”. It is a helpful motto to keep in times of struggle, but what exactly are we trying to “make it” to while quarantined in our houses? We don’t even know when all of this madness will be over. We are currently in a limbo-like state — not being able to move forward but still able to exist day-to-day. The immediate future we all thought we would have has changed drastically, leaving us only to exist in the present. Which brings me back to the question — what are we trying to “make it” to?

If you are struggling with finding the answer, all you simply have to do is look at yourself. Yes, it is terribly cliche, but we are trying to “make it” to a better and happier you. I challenge everyone to turn off all the notifications — just stop looking at all the things we can not control, and look at what you can control. You. Let go of fear and anxiety and relearn how to love yourself and the things around you. In a world full of fear and loss, we need to find ways to spread love and care for one another.

So, silence those email notifications, unless it is work-related, it is not important.  And simply delete your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Tik Tok app for a little while. You really aren’t missing out on that much if you just take a little break. Let go of the fear of missing out, write a letter to a loved one, and work on yourself. Then, maybe, you can return back to virtual society.

Actually, just keep Tik Tok deleted — the only thing you are missing is some Gen Z kid hitting the “woah” for the millionth time.

🌙 Stefanee Montesantos

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