Editorial Notebook

Challenging times call for connectivity

I know that I’m not the only one tapping through “until tomorrow” posts, 30-day song challenges, variations of “draw a carrot” stories, and endless customized bingo grids during quarantine. Nevertheless, watching my peers challenge each other to post videos of pushups, dances, and practicing music have reminded me of the power of social media and how it can be used positively in a trying time.

Before participating in my first “Instagram challenge” this week, I refused to post any of the others I was tagged in. By tagging only a set number of people, I thought these trends excluded many from participating. For instance, though I liked the idea of the challenge where girls tagged their other female friends to spread positivity and remind other women that they are beautiful, the trend itself left many out. At the same time, I knew that if I wrote “everyone is beautiful,” I wouldn’t be following the instructions, and I knew some may perceive it as passive-aggressive or view it as spam.

The challenge that stuck out to me from the rest was the “Meeting Between Breadfruit” experiment, in which the reader was encouraged to respond with a place, object, person, or moment that they shared with or that reminded the reader of the person who posted. The rest of the text read that the point of the experiment was to see who would actually take the time to read a photo-less post and respond to it, commenting that the basis for the experiment was to remind people of the importance of good friendship, which can be easy to forget in our constant immersion in technology.

Participants then repost the same block of text to see who else would take the time to do the same. Though it makes sense that most of the responses were from people I knew in high school, it was nice to reconnect with some people who I hadn’t talked to in a year or two. It was fun to catch up with some peers from the summer engineering program I attended in 2018, and FaceTime a couple of former orchestra friends that I had lost touch with after transferring high schools.

To all of those who I annoyed with that Instagram story, thank you. Thank you for reminding me to be intentional with all aspects of my communication with others, and for being the inspiration for this article. As we continue to stay at home, I challenge you to think about how you can use social media for its intended purpose: to stay connected. Check in with your friends and loved ones and remember that we’ll make it through this together!