Youth Op-Ed: Coping With The New Normal

May 15, 2020 By Diana P, Writer
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When my principal announced our school’s closure (for three weeks, at that time), the sounds of rejoicing erupted.

Students were ecstatic, excited about their elongated spring break. Teachers remained solemn, gravely announcing their makeshift plans to distracted ears.

Most of us had failed to grasp what this actually meant, until it was too late to exchange tender goodbyes with friends and mentors, too late to repeat words of encouragement, too late to band together one last time.

 

A New Normal

Five weeks after that initial news, we had all sobered up. School has been canceled until August. On social media, half-hearted affirmations (We can do this! We can beat this! Stay home!) contend with severe projections and statistics. The lucky students post images of pure boredom, continuously asking their audience for ​something​ to do. Meanwhile, the unfortunate are so consumed by their economic and medical struggles that they cannot even attend our Zoom conference calls.   

On the conference calls, those who are fortunate discuss those who are not, in hushed tones (which is unnecessary, since the unfortunate are not able to hear what their classmates are talking about). Teachers speak in confidence to their students, about how fellow classmates have lost their family income, lost their well-being, or lost a family member. Students look down, nodding, aware of their privilege yet unable to depart from thoughts of themselves and their own boredom.

That boredom seeps into every class, every social media post, every text/phone exchange. Though it is far from the greatest of problems that some are facing, the lack of sociality is truly unnerving.

The conference calls are stripped of any sort of repartee that in-person teaching offers. Without the eye contact and body language that signal interactions, students speak over one another, leading to moments of awkwardness. Students are also increasingly turning off their cameras and muting themselves, creating a swarm of black squares with names on them, surrounding the lonesome face of the teacher.

The classes plod forward at a slow pace and feel like a canned substitute of what they were before. If anything is going to deter the youth from transitioning to a completely online lifestyle, this is it. FaceTime cannot replace the assembly of friends. Zoom cannot replace the assembly of classmates and the teacher. Social media cannot replace intellectual and emotional discourse about turmoil and sorrow.                   

How Am I Coping?

Some students, like myself, have to take care of younger siblings, small children too young to manage homeschooling by themselves. And since parents are occupied, older children must divide their time between teaching themselves and teaching someone else. I have managed to maintain a task list each day in order to adhere to a schedule, but the day is arduous still, exacerbated by my mounting lack of motivation.

In an attempt to remedy my fatigue, I pepper in some of my old habits. I listen to my daily news podcast, which I used to do while cycling to school. I dress up and adorn myself with earrings and bracelets like I used to do to bashfully receive compliments at school. I clear up my desk, draw out my binders that were unnecessarily tucked into my backpack, position my laptop perfectly, and attempt to feel like I am actually in my usual space. Though these rituals are trivial, they do deliver a partial sense of normalcy, which is so coveted these days.

Coronavirus is indiscriminate (to an extent, of course). Every single part of society is being strangled by the virus, whether it be the transition to online school, the loss of livelihood (with the rampant job losses), or the simple loss of ​what once was​.

Those who are lucky have a family to exchange jokes with or to console them. But even those people are experiencing a lack of social fulfillment. This is a worldwide, involuntary, social experiment, testing our need for other people and our relationship with the internet. And already the results seem to be clear.

Comments

Alex Crumblehulme's picture
Alex Crumblehulme January 26, 2021 - 8:06am
I think this article is very relatable and i think i can grow off of this article
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Alex Crumblehulme January 27, 2021 - 7:49am
And i agree that younger siblings should be taken care of by they're older siblings.
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leo. January 25, 2021 - 3:54pm
I agree that older siblings are taking care of younger ones during this time more than ever. "That boredom seeps into every class, every social media post, every text/phone exchange. Though it is far from the greatest of problems that some are facing, the lack of sociality is truly unnerving." -Youth Op-Ed: Coping With The New Normal prgh. 6. I also agree what the author states here because social interaction is difficult but also boring since it isn't in person or face to face. This also relates to now (Jan. 2021) when most of the world is back on lockdown and schools are shutdown.
BDlegend's picture
BDlegend January 25, 2021 - 8:01am
This is very well said. I've been coping by trying to get out and not always being on the computer, also watching shows and FaceTiming with friends.
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Mariana. U January 24, 2021 - 2:12pm
You wrote a very well written article. I'm lucky enough to have an older sibling to take care of me, even though she forces me to make the food in the house. I cope with listening to music and rewatching my comfort shows on tv.
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Trinity324 January 21, 2021 - 8:51am
I think that this article was very well said and relatable. I also think that many people would enjoy reading this because it gives us a better understanding about how to deal with whats going on right now.
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Ciaran Weber January 21, 2021 - 8:17am
this article was very well written
Gabriella.m's picture
Gabriella.m January 20, 2021 - 11:33am
I think this article is well written because Diana is telling us what she went through during covid and how she is coping.
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Gabriella.m January 21, 2021 - 8:47am
I liked the part where she states, "And since parents are occupied, older children must divide their time between teaching themselves and teaching someone else."(paragraph 9) I don't really think I disagree with anything from this article.
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leo. January 20, 2021 - 11:01am
This is well said, I cope by playing video games, I also agree that older siblings are taking care of younger ones during this time more then ever
Ellina's picture
Ellina January 20, 2021 - 9:08am
I cope by listening to different kinds of music, watching streamers, and I'm getting into some podcasts as well.
Piece_control_Thomas's picture
Piece_control_Thomas January 20, 2021 - 8:14am
I agree that it is hard right now and that it is good that we try to cope with this going on at the same time
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Piece_control_Thomas January 21, 2021 - 8:20am
according to the articular, it is the start of a new normal. I disagree that many people were crying that school was gone till august. But that is also their opinion vs mine so i thought it was good because we get a brake from school.
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sebastian08 January 20, 2021 - 8:10am
the article is very interesting
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sebastian08 January 21, 2021 - 8:20am
Those who are lucky have a family to exchange jokes with or to console them.hello
marc's picture
marc January 20, 2021 - 8:08am
this is very well said and helped me calm down
aksis29's picture
aksis29 January 18, 2021 - 6:01pm
OMG so well worded! I helped my 8 yr old sis and my 3 year old sis with school alone cuz my parents are both doctors. Luckily we are back to in-person now but alternating for middle-schoolers such as myself.
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aksis29 January 18, 2021 - 6:02pm
Also dianapiper does your username have anything to do with the Percy Jackson books? I love them!
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Christina princess May 19, 2020 - 3:14am
Wow ? you are a really good writer !
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smalltiger May 20, 2020 - 7:16am
Yeah!