Communication During the Pandemic

By Olivia Barker Dell

As of now, our world is recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic. COVID-19 was first reported from Wuhan, China to the World Health Organization on December 31st, 2019. It has been over 500 days since the first report of COVID-19 cases. During the pandemic, everything has shut down, people have stopped traveling to work or to school, attending broadway shows or sporting events, or even meeting face to face. That last one is key, because it hampered our ability to communicate, which in itself is key in our world. Without face-to-face communication, our social lives are diminished, and we resorted to online communication. Apps such as iMessage, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Zoom, Google Meet, Discord, Snapchat, Messenger, and WeChat are just a few ways people have had to communicate in the pandemic. As a teenager starting her first year of high school, communication was a huge issue for a few reasons. First, friendships and school and at the workplace are key, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was much harder to make connections with my classmates. 

I’ve heard from a few friends that have struggled to make friends and communicate. They’ve told me that there are positives and negatives when it comes to communication and social apps. Apps such as Discord, Snapchat, Instagram, iMessage, and Zoom. Freshman Jonah Kau told me that he “uses apps like Discord or just simple messaging on my phone to talk to my friends and stay connected with them. Without these apps I feel like I wouldn’t be as open with my friends and these apps have really helped with talking during the pandemic. When I think about it, we kind of take it for granted and I think that it is a helpful tool.” Tenzin Chemi, another Beacon freshman, said something very similar.“I think they have helped me in making friends during this freshman year being that I’m doing fully remote. Although I’m unable to go to school in person to make friends, I can make friends online with the people from my school,” Chemi said. Even though everyone has different experiences, the most common and important part in all of their experiences was the ability to connect with new and older friends during the pandemic. They also shared with me how they have made connections with their fellow classmates, especially via Instagram and Discord, the two most popular communication apps used by the Beacon freshmen. 

Both Kau and fellow freshman Arcadia Santos Valentine mentioned many positives, but also told me how social media and communication can negatively impact someone’s health. Arcadia said that “one of the major problems is seeing other people living their exciting and socialized lives during the pandemic can make you feel isolated, which can impact your mental health.” This really stuck with me, as this feeling can be created from many different situations, whether it’s being left out of a group chat or not being able to download a key communication app because of your parents or technology. But overall, the positives seem to outweigh the negatives of these communication apps. 

Before the pandemic, Instagram and Snapchat were used for quick communication or just to advertise your life by posting photos and videos on your account. But times have changed, and some now use Instagram and Snapchat for class group chats, meetup planning, video calling, and more. I utilized Instagram almost every day during the pandemic, and I expect to continue to use it daily even when we return to our “normal” social lives. Even though group chats might die out and there might be less users livestreaming on the app, I’m sure that many will continue to use it.   On the other hand, while I’ve definitely kept Snapchat downloaded on my phone even though I might not check my messages every day. I’m more active on Instagram personally, but during the pandemic, I kept daily streaks on Snapchat with many of my middle school friends, and it was nice to connect with them even though we don’t see each other every day anymore. I expect to keep using that tool on Snapchat even after we recover from the pandemic. A slightly different situation lies with Discord, one of the most popular social media apps. Before schools were shut down, I thought of Discord as just a version of iMessage, but with options to make it more useful as a gaming platform. But since the pandemic hit New York City, I’ve learned that Discord offers so much more. I have joined several Discord servers and found you can create voice channels, text channels, minigame channels, add bots to provide special content for things like birthdays and pet ownership, and more. In my opinion, Discord has almost been a second home. On the app, I talk to all of my friends I’ve made this year at beacon. It has a multitude of abilities that suit our needs during the pandemic such as video, text, and voice calls, as well as music, streams, and more. Overall this app has been a very useful tool to my fellow freshmen. 

While apps that I’ve mentioned already skew younger, it’s worth mentioning apps like Facebook and Twitter becoming key for generally older generations. Facebook Messenger provides text, video, and voice chats. I rarely use Facebook Messenger, but I’ve found it useful when connecting with friends outside of the United States. Instead of paying extra for out-of-country calls, I’ve used Facebook Messenger to connect with them for free. Twitter also provides instant messaging, quick posts, and an interesting feed. 

Lastly, let’s talk about the two most used video conferencing apps: Zoom and google meets. These conferencing apps have been the home of my education during the pandemic, and even though school isn’t the most fun all the time,these apps have helped me get to know my friends and teachers. Even though my generation has mostly used these apps for educational purposes, people all over the world use Zoom and Google Meet to connect with each other, whether they live in a different time zone, borough, or neighborhood. 

Now that our nation is recovering from the COVID-19 with millions of people receiving vaccines, our regulations are loosening, and hopefully, we will be able to get back to our normal face-to-face conversations. But until then, it’s certainly been interesting to see what communication has been like during this time.

Sports arenas reopen: What will become our new normal, post pandemic?

By Olivia Barker Dell

Covid-19 has developed into a full on  pandemic over the last year. By early February of 2020 we knew about the incoming virus, but we never thought it would affect our lives to this extent. Everything we once knew as  normal, was  switched and mixed. Working from home, learning from home, and watching sports games from home became our new reality. During the Covid-19 city wide lockdown, families were forced to remain at home with only a few exceptions like going grocery shopping or traveling to work. And during this time, many office buildings, factories, restaurants and more were shut down due to the virus. In addition, most of our entertainment industry closed down, including sporting arenas.

This affected sport fanatics across the United States,especially New York: home to the Mets, Yankees, Nicks, Nets, Jets, Giants, Rangers, Islanders, New York FC, and more. The list goes on, from football teams to baseball teams. New Yorkers love the thrill of the crowd, the music, the food, the games, and the energy. This was all lost when restrictions were put in place for in-person events, you just don’t get the same feeling sitting in your living room staring at your television that you do surrounded by fellow fans. During the rise of Covid-19 . 

Over the past few months as our city has been reopening, people have begun  going back to work, restaurants are opening to a certain capacity, schools are reopening, and sports arenas are reopening as well. They were one of the last to reopen in New York. Currently baseball stadiums, like Yankee Stadium, are allowed to let in fans to see the game in person, but only up to 20% capacity. While centers, like the Barclays center in Brooklyn, will only be able to let in 10% of their fans to watch their team in person. Attendees will also have to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative covid-19 test within the timeframe given by the certain arena. Because of these new requirements, most new yorkers won’t be able to return back to their regular routine of going to see the games with family and friends. Something we’re all asking is: when will we be able to go back to our normal? Many people remember what it was like to attend a sports game in their home arena. As a New Yorker I would go to Yankees games all the time with my family. I remember getting ready for a game, wearing my sports fan gear, waiting on ridiculously long lines to get in, buying soda and hotdogs, crushing peanuts during the game, rooting and screaming when the yankees scored a run, and watching everyone around me scream, laugh, and show joy. That’s what many New Yorkers remember, but that is all in the past, sadly. That was before Covid-19’s new normal. And now we need to figure out what our post-covid normal is. The new regulations and restrictions will definitely change our known normal, but we will learn to adapt to it. There are many compontines to our new normal, some are economical, political, and some just involve the energy and feeling attendees will experience. As we have seen our current Governor of New York Andrew Cummo has continued to loosen guidelines as we progress through the pandemic. More and more New Yorkers are taking the variety of covid-19 vaccines available to our city, but many are against getting the vaccine. We have most seen this hesitation from the republican party. I think we all know, many supporters of the republican party are against getting the vaccines because of the politicians they support, who are against the covid vaccine. But as we progress many republican party supporters will give in and take the covid-19 vaccine because of the new sport arenas requirements. While getting a covid-19 test is another way to gain entry, it is much easier and quicker to just get the vaccine. 

Because of the lockdown we have seen a rise in food delivery because we were stuck in our house. While we were at home, we were still able to order in from most of our favorite restaurants. And many did so, while they were watching sporting events on television. Before and during football, baseball, basketball, soccer games NYC’s crazed fans would order many of these foods from online delivery websites such as doordash, and grubhub. A lot of this food came from fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, KFC, ect. But now that sports arenas are open, eventually food venders will reopen in all sports arenas. Stadiums like Yankee Stadium have reopened their retail food but many others have not. Other sports arenas are letting fans bring their own drinks and beverages to the game as long as it is checked by stadium security before entering. Our new normal sadly is wearing masks, getting vaccinated, bringing food and drinks, and not having the full energy of the crowd. But at least we can go to attend games. In the end, this is our new normal and we will adapt. Our lives were turned upside down a year ago and we are now getting back to our before pandemic lives. It will be a slow recovery for our nation and city but one day we will return to the roar of the crowd and the crushing of peanuts.