By Allie Ouendag
In this time of fear we find ourselves hunkered down in our homes surrounded by scary things. From catching the virus to food shortages, anxiety about how we are going to survive this global pandemic resonates with us all. But where do we turn in times of distress? It seems like our friends are worlds away- the 10 miles to our friends’ houses never felt so far. This era of lockdowns and quarantine ushered in a new form of communication and way to maintain relationships, the Zoom friendship.
Before quarantine, you may not have been familiar with the online application Zoom. Throughout the lockdown however, users from all around the world have utilized the video conferencing program to run business meetings, hold online classes, and connect with friends and family. In December 2019 Zoom reported an average of 10 million daily meetings, but by March 2020 Zoom was reporting around 200 million daily meetings.
Simply put, Zoom’s ability to create face-to-face interaction between users helps to fill the missing connection between friendships during social distancing. Even if you are only speaking for an hour you can trick yourself into believing that you’re back to normal life talking with your friends over dinner. The reality is that quarantine has become normal life, and so, too, have our Zoom calls.
From happy hours to birthday parties, Zoom has become a staple in many homes as a form of communication right alongside iMessage. Suddenly, social distancing rules intended to keep us apart have encouraged us to make more of an effort to connect with one another. We are scheduling weekly Zoom calls with friends to catch up on everyone’s at home workouts and stress over our online classes.
My scheduled weekly Zoom call with my friends has become a source of comfort and something I can look forward to during a hard week. My friend, Alexis Lomonocco, turned 19 two weeks ago. Despite missing her birthday due to the lockdown, we still celebrated online complete with presents sent by Amazon Prime and a virtual birthday cake.
“At first I was really sad that I would not be able to hang out with my friends for my birthday, but celebrating during a global pandemic is something I’ll never forget,” Lomonocco said of her unique celebration.
Despite the anxiety surrounding our current situation, we are still looking to our friends for support. Instead of weakening relationships, quarantine has created an environment where now more than ever we need each other. Zoom has bridged the distance beyond stay-at-home orders to allow for much needed social interactions and support to occur. Specifically in stressful situations, supporting one another is key to maintaining a healthy mindset. Research has found that offering support to someone can be just as beneficial as receiving it.
Even though distance may be keeping us apart, it’s important to maintain friendships as well as reach out to those that you may not have been as close with. In times of fear and uncertainty these relationships can keep you grounded and help pass the time even when locked in your house.