Keeping The “Social” In Social Distancing

Photo Courtesy of Sandy Villeda

Jennifer Peña / Staff Writer

The afternoon of Wednesday, March 11 was business as usual for me as I left my on-campus job with two books I had just checked out from the BBC library. Not even three hours later, it was announced that FIU was transitioning to remote learning. Even though I was expecting the news to come at some point, it still registered as a shock to me. 

All of a sudden, I wouldn’t be seeing my coworkers anymore or going to the in-person class that I really enjoyed. To fight the feelings of loneliness that bubbled up in the weeks that followed, I had to find other ways to stay connected.

Maybe, like me, you weren’t able to say goodbye to your friends on your last day on campus because you didn’t expect the remote learning announcement to come so soon. In place of those in-person goodbyes, it’s especially important now to say “hello” to new ways of communicating with people—and I don’t necessarily mean through Zoom.

Jennifer Peña/PantherNOW

If you regularly spend time online, you’ve probably seen “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” content at some point. For me and my friends, visits to each other’s islands in the popular video game have been a way to hang out even though we can’t see each other in person right now.

Another benefit to playing games together is being able to keep in touch with friends in other states at the same time. By finding time to call each other and play together, my friends and I have been able to team up in the fight against true social distance while staying physically distant from each other. 

Of course, video games aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the sense of isolation that’s been a common byproduct of social distancing measures—but for me, Discord calls and “Animal Crossing” sessions with friends have made a big difference in my days at home. 

I already considered myself a homebody before the current social distancing measures, but somehow the mass stay-at-home situation feels different. Unlike a break between semesters in which you can meet up with friends and enjoy time off at home, school-related social time has turned into sometimes messy 30-person Zoom meetings. 

For a lot of Panthers, our plans for the spring and summer semesters were suddenly shifted thanks to the pandemic. This experience has looked different for all of us, whether we’ve stayed in Miami or returned to homes out of state.

Any way you look at this situation, days spent at home aren’t the same right now as they were before the pandemic. That’s why it’s so important to find your own ways to stay connected to others (at a safe physical distance), whether or not your methods look like mine. Together, we can show support for our fellow Panthers while also taking care of ourselves.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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