Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 7

Socializing in the Time of Corona

As far as we know, the current coronavirus lockdown which includes school closure until April 6, Las Lomas sophomores Connor Casey, Max Loar, and Gage Leonard like many other teens have restricted their  “socializing by playing FIFA, Fortnite.”  

By limiting their interactions to virtual socializing, these teens are following the Contra Costa County directive issued on March 16 that requires residents to shelter-in-place and leave home only for necessities such as grocery shopping and doctor visits until April 7. Similarly, on March 19, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an order requiring all California residents to stay at home unless it is necessary. These guidelines are in place to slow the spread of this disease that has no cure and can be deadly.  With these restrictions in place, many teens are relying on video games as described above and Facetime to maintain social interactions. However, some students are struggling to stay connected with their peers. In one case, sophomore Subhan Hayat indicates that he has had “minimal contact online, except for asking about homework.”

Accordingly, many communication experts support the use of these technologies to maintain relationships. Various applications can allow people to replicate in-person interactions, virtually. For example,  Melissa Mazmanian, UC Irvine Professor of Informatics, uses apps such as Facetime and Skype for virtual lunch meetings in which she and a friend chat and eat in front of their phones or laptops. 

At the same time, our community is not completely in compliance with the county and state guidelines as some are choosing to continue to engage in face-to-face socializing.  Although residents are permitted outside their homes, they are advised to maintain a six-foot distance from others. On the app Nextdoor Neighbor commenters are alarmed to see teens playing basketball at Rudgear Park, people walking together in large groups, and young children playing on playground equipment at Heather Farms.  

Overall, despite the challenges of restrictive social contact due to coronavirus, technologies are allowing people to continue to interact and maintain relationships. People can continue to socialize while protecting themselves and others from this deadly disease.