- How has the shutdown altered your daily life?
Though unusual, quarantine has enabled me to reassess my priorities and understand the fleeting nature of school. My life used to revolve around daily stresses, such as homework and tests, but only because school was such a significant aspect of my life. Now that packing my lunch, driving to school, being there for 8+ hours a day, is gone, so is the need to prove myself academically. I am finding that the idea of success is often tied to the way we spend our time. This realization allows me to control my self-image and apply myself to my passions rather than societal pressure.
- What is the one thing that has shocked you the most about how people are dealing with this pandemic?
The nihilistic mindset which many of today’s youth have is nothing new, but the magnitude of such negativity is. We are all stuck at home on the internet, which is designed to be an echo chamber of our own beliefs. I have found that those who had previously seen a balance between optimism and pessimism took the lockdown as a sign that nothing matters: they are here for a good time, not a long one. Thus, these people are meeting friends, going on vacation: reckless behavior that only lengthens quarantine and strengthens their belief.
- Once this is over, how do you think our world will change?
The stereotype of the youth being hermits craving nothing but isolation has dramatically diminished as older generations are exposed to the lengths people will go through to connect. There are Facebook groups with millions of accounts, all pretending to be an ant or bee colony, roleplaying, which gives them a sense of agency and structure, and the popularity of multiplayer video games has skyrocketed. Being exposed to people and ideologies from all over the world drastically improves the ability to empathize and accept differing opinions, creating a more tolerable, communicative future.
- If this virus has made you realize one thing, what is it?
The virus has eradicated hierarchies and societal influences, subsequently increasing the importance of meaningful friendships and relationships. This has allowed the phrase “quality over quantity” to sink in, as there is no longer any benefit to having even 500 friends if none of them are close enough to reach out to after school.