Dora Guo

Like many of us, I’ve spent a good deal of the last year living online.  In fact, I’ve spent so much time on Zoom that I almost forget I have a physical form extending below my neck.  Due to the outsized role social media now plays in all of our lives, I’ve devoted this article to surveying my social media usage across a variety of different apps since the pandemic began. Happy scrolling, readers!

INSTAGRAM:

Let’s be real for a second: Instagram has always been a hotbed of insecurity.  You can barely scroll for a minute without taking in images of bikini photos so artistic they might as well be on the cover of Vogue, so many “affirmation” posts it somehow feels like a personal attack, or a guy who is so buff that he looks like he’s training for the latest Marvel movie.  But somehow, since the dawn of 2020, Instagram has gotten … even worse.

First off, allow me to introduce you to a new breed of Instagram-using Yalie I discovered this semester: the jet-setter. Live vicariously through them as they tour a series of tropical islands and major cities while you sit quarantined in your residential college in New Haven. Try not to judge them for doing so in the midst of a public health crisis. Fail at this, then sulk at your smartphone screen and whine to your friends about them.

Beyond that, with so many students (including most of my fellow first-years) away from campus, scrolling through social media can feel like a slap in the face. Mere hours after I flew out of New Haven at the end of last semester, I was inundated by a frenzy of posts probably most accurately categorized as “college nostalgia.” Post after post seemed to contain dozens of Yalies (masked or otherwise) in various fun locations ranging from neon-light-adorned rooms to random beaches (does Connecticut really have beaches? I remain unconvinced). The predominant feeling this elicited in me was acute FOMO, followed quickly by a side of salt, as I wondered how my peers knew so many people. Like, I worked so hard to have maybe five friends in my post. Give me a break! What does a college student have to do around here to look popular during a literal pandemic on Instagram?

DISCORD:

Horrifyingly, I was alerted by my iPad two weeks into quarantine, over fall break, that I’d been averaging 17 hours per day of screen time, 15 or so of which were apparently taken up by Discord. What is Discord, I hear the non-gamers among you asking? One answer is that it’s the price I pay for having a gamer boyfriend. The other answer is that it’s fancy Skype. Either way, it is now what I consider to be the lifeblood of long-distance relationships.

YITTER:

Today, I admitted that the most I’ve interacted with the Yale student body since coming on campus may in fact be through Yitter, what its natives affectionately dub the Yale Twitter social network. It’s messy, it’s vibrant, it’s beautiful; it provides no shortage of Handsome Dan XIX content. And it wouldn’t be the same without the Yitter Uncensoring Bot (@ytuncensorbot), who is nameless, faceless and apparently knows all our secrets. So keep tweeting, friends — you never know when you’ll get the attention of an opportunistic YDN reporter who wants to quote you in their next article!

TIKTOK:

Let’s just say that 2020 started out with me trying (and failing) to learn the “Savage” TikTok dance, and ended with me and my suitemate sending each other absurd multilingual animal and baby clips to cry and laugh at.

REDDIT:

I’ve become pretty active on this one over the last year for reasons unbeknownst to me. Is it embarrassing? Maybe. Do I want to talk about it? No.

WHATSAPP:

I’m an international student. I have a large Asian family. I think this one speaks for itself.

YOUTUBE:

Is YouTube even social media? Either way, Chloe Ting has held a special place in my heart since my very first quarantine. Ah, those were the days — we were so young, so full of hope.

FACEBOOK:

Although I, like most internet-savvy Gen Z, have essentially cut ties with Facebook, I hear from my mother that the Yale parents group is alive and well. Its main activities seem to be bemoaning the lack of Yale Dining options on our behalf and questioning the ethics of certain Yale colleges (I won’t name names) forcing their students to compete to win inflatable furniture.  So I guess that’s a pandemic-related change in social media: our parents are apparently unionizing to help us, and I’m not really mad about it.

CANVAS?

Waking up to 99+ Canvas notifications really leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling. Relax, professors! You don’t need to do this to get our attention. I miss you too.

Mel Adams | melissa.adams@yale.edu