by Elizabeth Phillips, 04/09/2020, Traverse City, MI

Middle School 6-8 Category

Everyone has been struggling with social distancing — not being able to see friends, stuck in the house with your siblings, and dying of pure boredom. But, many people have the comfort of being able to pull out their smartphones and go on social media to see all the people they know and love.
I, however, am not able to use social media.
And there is no one to blame for this except me.
I am a Catholic and attend a Catholic church. In my religion, we have a forty-day period of time leading up to Easter where we give something up, and this time is called Lent. I decided to give up all social media.
My generation uses social media as a primary way to communicate. Social media is a way to see and be in contact with people without being with them. I convinced myself to do it and didn’t really expect losing it to be so hard.
Then COVID-19 decided to come along.
I was doing completely fine without social media before the coronavirus came. I was still seeing people at school, and I could always Snapchat or DM someone if I needed anything. Things started to derail when we were let off of school for a couple of weeks.
I started to feel completely isolated. Even though I could easily call or text someone, it felt like I was cut off. I wanted to be able to see what other people were doing to keep themselves entertained. I wanted to see my friends and family and be able to connect with them in the ways we were feeling. It wasn’t only my friends I wanted to see. I wanted to see what celebrities were doing as well.
I wanted to see how everyone was reacting to this different time, and the only reaction I could see was my own.
I kept wishing and wishing that I could see people, through a screen, at least. And I felt stupid, at some points, for being so reliant on social media that my parents didn’t even have when they were younger.
To cope with the virus and being away from social media, I have been writing letters to my best friend. I have been keeping in contact with many of my friends, calling and texting them. A Zoom meeting was held with my aunts and uncles for my cousin’s birthday. Having these resources make up for the loss of social media.
At this point in time, Easter is three days away. And I am so proud of myself, truly. COVID-19 caused a huge mountain I had to struggle over, and I did it. Yes, of course, I had problems along the way. But the fact that I, a thirteen-year-old, survived without social media, while social distancing, makes me so happy.
I would say the hardest part about the virus, for me, is having to social distance from social media. But luckily, that cannot contract COVID-19.
I hope.