Being at home hasn't been easy. And the new college habits we just started to get used to haven't helped matters. The amount of times my mom has come into my room to check if I was asleep at 1 a.m. is unsettling. In college, 1 a.m. was when I used to start my homework. Now if I'm too loud, my parents will storm in and yell at me for disrespecting the schedule they had gotten used to. The one without me. The one where looking for snacks in the refrigerator or laughing with my missed friends on a FaceTime into the early hours of the morning is not cool.
The restrictions that have been placed on us college students with increased parental vigilance during this time is anything but fun. Privacy has been thrown to the curb, and access to friends has become increasingly limited. Of course, being at home has become more comforting over time. I don't know about you, but I can say that I have started to get used to it. Time has been friendly to this process. My routine now is very similar to my old high school routine, which is a sad fact but also strangely consoling. However, I can't say I haven't gotten deja vu from recognizing that I am living my old life.
Like any other stressful or saddening situation, we as people often look to things that give us comfort and solace during a time that isn't especially comfortable. The recent quarantine situation is no exception. After about a week of cleaning the house, reading old books, walking outside, and attempting to entertain myself in any way possible, I found myself increasingly gazing upon the magic of a relatively new app, TikTok. It can be easily defined as a dump of media that consists of videos of talented and funny young people trying all they can to get "TikTok famous." I have had this app downloaded since last summer and not only is the content very relatable, but it also exhibits interesting and exciting perspectives that individuals like myself aren't used to seeing daily in my own little bubble.
From inspiring dance videos to storytimes to attractive people giving relationship advice, this app almost eliminates the need for binge-watching the newest Netflix series. Even I, who has one of the most introverted social media presences known to man, began to brainstorm possible options for creating worthy TikTok content. Watching some of my friends trying to mimic trends that were creating a buzz on the platform seemed like a fun idea. The thought of becoming the next Addison Rae was all that girls my age could imagine. To be envied by so many is all that a teenage girl these days could want, right?
This may seem to be all rainbows and butterflies, but I slowly began to realize how much time I was spending not only on this app but on my phone in general. Part of me was annoyed when I got a weekly phone time notification and realized I was spending half of my day online. It was even more annoying when my parents confronted me about it. "You don't even know those people you look at all day!" said my mom. Deep down, I knew she was right and that it was a huge waste of time. It was also disrupting my intricate sleep schedule.
Things seemed like they were spiraling more out of control than usual. But what else was there to do? All the activities I had been doing at the beginning of quarantine seemed pointless now. I wanted to do the bare minimum. I had no effort to excel at assignments. The bare minimum was enough. And it's not like I could just fall off the edge of the earth. I had people to stay connected to, and now it was essential that I used all the technological resources I could as an avenue of doing this. Keeping the relationships I had made during my shortened time in college seemed to be a priority I could not forget about. But I began to notice that days where I was productive and balanced communication with social media entertainment were my most fulfilling days. Days that were filled with Netflix-binging and scrolling were days that made me feel more stressed and aimless than normal.
There has been a lot of discussion about maintaining a positive mindset during this time. It is important to be aware of your feelings throughout this pandemic. I think that as humans we often take for granted the things we are used to, and this change in climate has humbled many of us. We can't do all the things we are accustomed to doing, and it can seem like our primary purpose has been stripped away from us. So many events that we were looking forwards to have been canceled (like my 1975 concert). But it is essential that we attempt to adapt to this lifestyle by doing the things we enjoy in a different way.
Occupying our minds and keeping busy are some of the most beneficial ways to keep a lightened attitude. Exercising as well as doing simple things like spending time outside can help to spend time away from a virtual world that is often filled with anxiety. The recent news has been anything but sunny side up and delving into it can invoke a substantial toll on our mental health. But simple steps can be taken in order to avoid feeling empty and isolated during this time. And most of all, we need to remain positive that sticking to quarantine will save lives and let summer 2020 come sooner. We need to be aware that there is a balance between all of this and our social media. There is a bigger picture that we are looking at.
The moral of the story here is that yes, our parents are probably right. We do spend too much time on our phones. Like usual. But that doesn't mean that we have to deprive ourselves of the joys that come with these apps that are (positively?) defining our generation. These things aren't going away for sure. And although it may seem like a better option to go cold turkey and rid ourselves of all the possible distractions, many have tried and felt just as empty. The relationship between quarantine and our phones is not a good one, but it could be good if we learn how to balance the two. Just like any relationship, if the two ends are able to meet in the middle, maybe it will be a happy ending.
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