Maintaining a social life amidst the COVID-19 pandemic


Photo by dole777 on Unsplash

Some social media apps that can be used to communicate with others.

Shreya Voruganti, Staff Writer

Millions of people across the world are stuck in their homes because of the pandemic. People across the world suffered from this deadly virus, but people communicated in many different ways to stay in touch with their friends and family.

At Westford Academy, students were also stuck at home until schools opened up in mid-September for the 2020-2021 school year. Students found ways of communicating with each other during these unstable times. The guidance department has helped students work through the struggles of communicating during a pandemic.

Guidance counselor Heidi Hider said she recommends students to use whatever communication methods they can use, on a personal level. She said it depends on who is being contacted, and for friends, FaceTime or text are some options, and for grandparents, calling is another option.

“I mostly use texting or FaceTime to talk to my friends, but I’ve used Zoom a lot to attend virtual events and meetings,” freshman Natalie Weinberg said when asked about forms of communication.

Senior Mateo Berman-Sample said he uses Zoom, Skype, and Discord for mainly the video-calling features, and occasionally the messaging features.

Hider said that she thinks what makes a method of communication useful is that it depends on the audience, and what they want to use.

However, in recent months, virtual communication has increased a lot.

According to  Cnet, Skype increased a lot earlier in the year when the pandemic started and a lockdown was in place. Zoom usage has also increased during the pandemic, according to The Verge. Discord usage has also skyrocketed during the pandemic, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

These virtual communication platforms have made their way into classrooms and the daily lives of WA students, but some are more useful than others.

When asked about which form of communication is the most useful, Berman-Sample said video calling is the most useful form of communication.

“Texting is the least useful way for communication […] because you’re not actually talking to a person you’re typing words into a screen,” Berman-Sample said.

Some methods of communication can be useful for some, but not the right fit for others. It all depends on both parties that are communicating with each other and what they are comfortable with.

Weinberg said that she thinks email is the least useful form of communication because she gets too many spam and advertisement emails to keep her notifications on, so she never sees emails as soon as she gets them. Unlike emails, she sees phone calls and texts as soon as she gets them.

Weinberg also said Zoom has been useful when arranging large meetings and has many features. Both agree that video calling is a step down from communicating face-to-face.

Face-to-face or in real-life communication has become a lot less during the pandemic due to the social distancing rules and mask guidelines. People have been staying at home more to not spread the virus to other people. However, schools in the Westford Public Schools district have run for the first quarter of the school year,  giving some students chances to catch up with others.

“I actually am keeping in touch with people more than I did before the pandemic because, before the pandemic, I was seeing them every day or nearly every day at school, in various clubs and classes,” Berman-Sample said. “Now, I don’t think I’ve seen a few of my friends since March since this started because it is easier to lose contact with someone or have a falling out with them if you’re not talking with them every day.”

Weinberg said that she talks to people the same amount, and she still talks to most of the friends that she doesn’t see in school through text and FaceTime.

Since schools have opened, it offers the students attending hybrid classes more chances to socialize with some of their fellow classmates face-to-face and attend a school setting that is not virtual. However, the students in the Remote Learning Academy(RLA) still face some communication issues as they attend school virtually.

To solve this problem, the guidance department is holding a lunch bunch group for RLA students interested so that they can stay in touch with their fellow RLA students. The meetings will be very casual and will consist of chatting, playing games, or anything students request to do.

However, some students still might struggle with communication, and Hider said a good way to start is to think about why you are struggling to communicate. If you are struggling with wanting to communicate, you could reach out for some mental health support, and if you are struggling with how to communicate, you could reach out for a different type of support and think of ways to connect with others.

Communication with others is extremely important in these unstable times because it helps you maintain good mental health. You can enjoy talking with your friends and family while taking some time to step away from all the stress and relax.

“This year has been really hard. I think a lot of people are struggling for a lot of different reasons. And, I just always remind myself that we don’t know what someone’s going through, and they might not always communicate it. I […] try to remind myself to have the best intentions. […] What’s the harm in assuming the best in everybody? […] Communication can go both ways, […] it’s okay to communicate with someone if you’re concerned, or just to see how they are. Communication is more important now than ever,” Hider said.