Feeling less distant through social media


A quarantine bingo sheet created by @patrgauthier

By Jack Belmont, Reporter

Olimpia Kocouris finishes her remote learning assignments for the day and opens her phone to Instagram. There she sees an image posted by her friend of former president Bill Clinton, sitting cross-legged on a carpet, along with four of her friend’s favorite albums. Scrolling through the rest of her feed, many other friends have posted the same picture of the 42nd president with their own favorite albums. 

I just think the aesthetic of it was cool and funny,” said Kocouris, Div. 157.

The website that allows people to create their own album collage, billclintonswag.com, was created by Thomas Millar.

“It was a fun 15 mins,” Millar tweeted about the website’s short lived fame. “Got written up in Oprah Magazine which was kinda cool.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many Americans inside, with stay at home orders in place in 42 states as of April 7. At the same time, social media use has increased, with Snapchat stating, “Communication with friends increased by over 30% in the last week of March compared to the last week of January.”

Before, I would go on my phone a lot. But that was about 1-2 hours a day since I was always busy with practices, school, and club meetings,” Kocouris said. “Now, my screen time has increased to 14 hours a day.”

On Snapchat, users are sharing personality bingo with categories like “Quarantine,” “Never Have I Ever” and TV shows such as “The Office.”

“I think it’s fun because it’s a good way to analyze yourself,” said Frankie Sherman, Div. 177. “It’s definitely a good distraction.” 

Twitter saw a 23% increase in daily active users over last year, per Social Media Today. At the same time, Dosomething.org surveyed members ages 13-25 about their current mood during the Covid crisis. Among respondents, 57% reported feelings of frustration, and 49% reported feelings of nervousness. 

Many are using humor to share feelings of stress amid the pandemic. “I’m not counting 2020 toward my age because I didn’t use it,” says @Damian_Barr on Twitter. Others share memes about their inability to get a haircut, with salons and other businesses closed all over the country.

Social media is also being used as a news source for some teens. Sofia Avila says it keeps her up to date with current events. 

“On Instagram and Tiktok people post news and updates so it’s a great way to stay informed,” said Avila, Div. 359.

And it’s not just teens. Lori Lightfoot has been the subject of countless memes after cardboard cutouts of the Chicago mayor were spotted outside homes and businesses. Instagram user @whereslightfoot has been posting edited images of the mayor in various recognizable locations in Chicago, including on the Red Line, at the Chicago Theatre and at “The Bean.”  

Lightfoot herself even got in on the joke when she tweeted a meme of herself, captioned “You know who you are.”

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said in a recent interview with CNN that if everything goes right, a vaccine could be available in November or December of this year.

Still, the future of COVID-19 remains uncertain. Time will tell if teens continue to use social media as a way to cope, but @azealousretort on Twitter has a prediction. “When all of this is over you could probably make ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic: A History in Contemporary Memes’ or do some cultural studies on the use of memes to spread information or cope with anxiety.”

Quarantine would definitely be much less interesting without social media,” Avila said. “There are long boring hours of nothing where you can’t see friends and nothing is on TV.”