For the last blog (which really is the last blog this time, I promise), we end off this semester by recognizing a relationship between a generation and the CO-VID 19 pandemic. A TED Talk by Darcy Dixon highlights the impact of this tragic and life-changing pandemic and how the Gen Z has been affected a little differently than everyone else. But how can this be fixed? Dixon begins with discussing the strong sense of community and how it’s a “vital aspect of modern life and an essential component in human flourishing.” I don’t deny that. The past year has taught us the value of something that we all took for granted: relationships. Whether familial, romantic, friendly, etc. it seems that all these were tested. Many of us stayed inside with our families during the lockdown, seeing and noticing things that we never really saw before. Some things good, some things not so good. Throughout the pandemic, couples who had been married for decades sadly divorced within a short amount of time because this time, they actually lived together. Couples who were testing the waters realized that if they could stay happy and enjoy together during this time, nothing can keep them apart. Community can mean different things for different people, as it ranges from academic life to professional life. But the pandemic didn’t spare anything. It hit everyone equally hard and turned everything upside down. The new trend was “If you care for someone, if you love them, don’t meet them. Leave them alone and keep them safe.” Loneliness was the sudden addition of showing your love for someone. No more hugs, no more seeing a face, no more touching a shoulder. It was all dangerous. Once upon a time, a physical gesture that used to be considered showing compassion and emotion was now becoming a death warrant.
And human interaction had come to a halt around the world. For the old and the young. Dixon mentions how being a student of philosophy and theology helped her understand the meaning of little to no human interaction. But I have to say, you don’t need to learn either subject to get this. It’s common sense, and it’s an emotion that each and every one of us experienced during the months of lockdown. But Gen Z…well, it was something else altogether. For the youth, who was just starting to blossom in life, had to suddenly drop everything and run. They couldn’t graduate the way they wanted, they couldn’t celebrate events that they worked so hard for, they couldn’t be with their lifetime besties or even visit extended family. The idea of having fun and being a social butterfly was forced to be forgotten, and we all had to submit to the emerging idea of staying in our cocoons. For the first time, Gen Z was experiencing loss and disease as a community. We were feeling, as Dixon put it, “collectively estranged, helpless and disoriented.” Everyone thought we had our own thing going, busy and caught up in the rat race of studying and trying to make something of ourselves academically and professionally, but within days, each of us came together to make one puzzle that displayed the real need of human relationships and the topic we are focusing on here: community.
Dixon explains that young people are three times more likely to experience loneliness. But is that accurate? Old people were isolated more than we were during this pandemic. They were scared that if they stepped out of the house, they would catch the virus and not survive. In the beginning few months, all everyone heard was that the disease will killing the elderly and unhealthy. Some of the youth still decided to break rules and meet up, because they didn’t have the fear that they would get it. They didn’t feel susceptible. One of my friends told me “I am not worried. Because we are young, we won’t get it. The older people are getting affected more.” Is she right? Yes, but to a certain extent. We can still get it, some young people have unfortunately died from it. But the mortality rate is much less. However, we can still pass it to our elder family members. So either way, we have to be responsible. So the statistic Dixon found important to share, I can’t say I agree. Because it’s based on the situation that is causing the loneliness. You cannot give one measure for it; it’s something that hits everyone hard.
Culminating community had definitely become a challenge during the start of the pandemic. Students, teachers, professors, business men and women, etc. had to quickly figure out how to bring about engagement despite the lack of physical presence. The show must still go on, so instead of physical intimacy, there was a higher level of emotional and intellectual intimacy. It brought upon the realization that when one was alone in this situation, there was a sense of vulnerability. But as a community, there was now a collective strength that no one was really alone and that everyone was going to get through this together. Whether it’s virtual learning or social media like blogging or podcasting or Instagram lives, every little bit helps in this period of time when physical togetherness means probable death. During this time, everyone should try to become an A“gen”t Z and try to work together to diminish loneliness and culminate community to an extent that should stay strong even when things go back to normal…one day.