Some things are better left unsaid, especially during times like this when we are forced to confront our own demons as we put ourselves in isolation. As a desperate attempt to rekindle my relationships with the outside world, I asked a few of my friends how they have been doing.
I asked them a series of questions that can summarize their experience with social media and how it has been shaping their mental health during this wild quarantine time.
1. Which social media sites do you use?
The ones who use the most popular social media sites tend to stay around those such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. The others who go beneath that margin tend to lean solely towards Reddit and YouTube. I even agreed to count LinkedIn as a social media site.
2. Can you estimate how much time you spend in a day scrolling through social media sites?
This one was quite interesting to look through. For instance, some people were very detailed about their time:
"According to my screen time, YouTube is half an hour a day and Reddit is 1.5-2 hours a day." - A
"Oh geez. That's a lot. Probably 2-3 hours a day, maybe more." - B
People can spend most of their time playing video games and watching movies so their time on social media sites can fit these times.
"12 - 15 hours a day." - C
"I probably spend 3 - 4 hours looking at shit online." - D
3. Since quarantine began, describe your day to day habits.
Job positions and internships seem to be keeping a lot of people occupied. Social distancing has enforced stay-at-home practices and empathetic attitudes — two factors that sounded relaxing at the beginning of all this. Going back to normal is easier said than done with the way COVID-19 cases are increasing. Aside from that, however, there is a mutual understanding that most of our free time at home is spent scrolling through phones and laptops.
"Day to day I wake up around 10 and switch between work and social media basically all day. I have a surprisingly more of a set daily schedule than before quarantine." - A
"I try to wake up at a good time for work. [...] Evenings are inconsistent. I'll eat dinner, watch TV, play video games, take a walk, or all of the above." - B
"FaceTiming and reaching out to people who I rarely have a day to day conversations with, eating an increasing amount of takeout food, sleeping in, [...] virtual dates/sex with my boyfriend at night…now [I have] a virtual internship that gives me something to prepare for/be a functioning human for." - C
"I've been working during the summer which is most of the quarantine so just a 10-7 schedule." - D
4. Can you say you are the same person as you were before quarantine? How have you changed?
"[From a] better sleep schedule [to be honest]." - A
"I definitely don't feel like the same person. Since working from home, my ability to keep a solid routine and sleep schedule is much more" - B
"I don't think I'm very different but maybe more responsible for myself and more aware of how I present myself." - C
"I've been much safer and careful about my own and other people's health, sensitive to popular topics on social media such as racism and sexual abuse, COVID-19, wearing masks, etc." - D
5. Have you noticed a shift in attitude/personality/trends through your most used social media sites? What does that shift look like?
"I feel like I follow news events more closely as they affect how my future life is gonna look more so than they used to. Like before if the government or the school did something, it's like 'kay whatever I'm gonna go to class and then do some work and then go out on Friday and next week is gonna look about the same- but now like it matters more what authority says because who knows when we're gonna be back to normal." - A
"I've noticed many people are more and more frustrated with plenty of situations. While many of us are doing things right (social distancing, wearing masks, etc), so many seem to have decided this is all over when it's not. I've noticed way more people willing to have tough conversations over social media, whether it be about systemic racism or how we handle health care in and out of a pandemic." - B
"People are using their platforms a lot more to reach out and define the friends they've had through social media in new terms of politics and points they've reached in life." - C
"I guess I'm realizing just how shitty the US is compared to other countries in all the aspects I've mentioned before [attitude towards practices that'll prevent the spread of COVID-19, racism, sexual abuse..]" - D
I want to thank those who willingly answered my questions. It is sometimes really hard to share or admit what we're thinking about the issues we have to confront mainly online. I hope you find some comfort in these responses — change is sometimes inevitable.