In the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, The Argus will feature personal essays on how life has changed in strange, scary, or surprising ways. If you have a hot take, a serious reflection, a funny anecdote, or anything in between, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few weeks ago, in the middle of a late night scrolling through Facebook, I came across a group that at least 40 of my friends—not necessarily from Wesleyan—had already joined: Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens. Chuckling to myself, I requested to join and immediately began to browse.
At first, it was what I expected from a meme page. There were memes emphasizing the irony that now every school has become the University of Phoenix. Posts lamented the Class of 2020’s rites of passage, and discussed their probable Zoom graduation. And of course, students were sharing Tik- Toks that poked fun at the situation.
But as I kept falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, I found there was more to these groups than just memes and TikToks. There was real organization. In light of cancelled performances, student-musicians were organizing Zoom concerts. Students, concerned about how their institutions’ transition to online learning would go, created study groups and group chats for different subjects. There were even speed dating events—to be held on Zoom, of course.
People from all over were telling their stories, sharing frustrations, and asking how to approach their new free time. All of these posts were met with many comments from students agreeing with sentiments expressed, providing suggestions, and just offering general support.
Not to mention, breakout groups had formed for different identity groups. As a Jew, I felt immediately drawn to Zoom University Hillel, where I was met with posts regarding upcoming Shabbat Zooms as well as countless “Where my [insert any city/country/area of study/adjective/handedness/anything really] Jews at?” An outgrowth of this group was MeetJewUniversity, marketed as a place to “find your NJB/NJG/NJP while the world is ending.”
Someone had even founded Zoom University’s only sorority: Zeta Omicron Omicron Nu. Although not particularly interested in joining myself, I browsed the page and was met with posts introducing the different sorority chairs, boasting Club Penguin frat parties, and encouraging people to sign up for Big/Littles.
At first glance you may be thinking, “wow, these Zoomers (as college students are jokingly called now) are really bored and need something productive to do.” But I find all of this to be incredibly uplifting. Not only do these groups use humor—one of the best medicines in times like these—to raise spirits, but they also help out with the loneliness that so many of us are feeling right now.
Social distancing strips away our ability to be social in the way we’re used to. As inherently social creatures, this is hard. But these groups and the people in them are creating social opportunities in a way that is appropriate.
Even more than that, it’s appreciated. I have a new network and community of people who are going through the same thing I am. It doesn’t matter where they’re from, or what University they attend. We are all Zoom University’s inaugural, and hopefully only, class.
Hannah Docter-Loeb can be reached at email@example.com.