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socializing over zoom by Masha G. '24

it's been rough

Last week, non-seniors who want to live on campus in the spring01 like me! submitted their dorm preferences. The actual lottery keeps getting delayed, but the actual process of ranking dorms was an experience in and of itself. In trying to figure out who staple02 we were allowed to staple with a group of up to eight people who we are guaranteed to be placed into the same dorm as. many people then plan to form a pod with these people in the spring with was a whole process in itself. Thinking about the spring and pods forced me to take stock of what relationships I’ve been able to form in this strange semester. So, as I wait for the news, I thought this might be a good time to reflect on what a freshman fall over Zoom has looked like, socially. And no matter how I try to frame it in my mind, making friends online has been hard. And exhausting, and kind of depressing. This isn’t to say that I haven’t made friends, not at all. I’ve made a couple good friends, a large handful of more-than-acquaintances-not-quite-friends-yet, and a lot of good acquaintances.03 idk how to characterize levels of closeness okay Socializing has just been a constant source of stress, and I don’t think I’m alone in this experience.

The main problem, I think, is that Zoom fatigue is real. Staring at a screen all day is exhausting. Being online all day, even just by having notifications on, is exhausting. If I’m already online all the time, going to classes, emailing professors, doing random errands, the last thing I want at the end of all that is to go on yet another Zoom call, or even just stare at my phone for an hour to have a conversation with a friend. Beyond this, it’s pretty much impossible to host an effective group gathering online. Put everyone on one call, and you’ll be talking over each other, make breakout rooms, and it becomes weird. As grateful as I am for the technology that has allowed us to stay connected, it’s an exceedingly poor replacement for face to face interaction. Then there’s other issues. Say you’ve been texting someone, and you’re getting along well. There’s still no way to really tell how reciprocal it is. IRL, you can easily see the people that seek you out to spend time with you – be it to get lunch, or to sit in the lounge with, or do psets with.04 I know a lot of people who like to pset together over zoom, but it hasn’t really worked for me Online, it’s hard to effectively gauge interest. Tiny social cues I’ve never questioned, like this one, are suddenly gone, and it sucks.

In my personal case, I’ve made it even harder on myself by moving to a remote time zone. Surely, that could’ve been avoided, and I did think about these consequences of going off to Russia. The thing is, I know that it’s hard to make friends online. And so I thought, whatever, I’ll just meet people in the spring. I’ll do a sort of half gap semester, I’ll go easy on any activities outside of classes, and I’ll just vibe in St. Petersburg. Problem solved.05 avoidance is the best solution, amirite And to some extent, this is actually what happened. The problem remains that I didn’t really plan on making friends through online MIT, and suddenly I found that I’m seeing all these cool people in my classes, and I actually wouldn’t mind, but going about it is hard and I cant ask people to lunch and texting isn’t the same and facetiming out of the blue feels weirdly personal. Being so isolated has been a blessing in disguise, then, because it’s not my fault that I haven’t made as many friends as other people.06 but also, what do I know. I think most first years are struggling, and it’s just the rose-colored of social media that make it seem otherwise I’m far away. I’m asleep for the 10 pm games of Among Us with my scuffy group, or the 8 pm class mixers.

I think, before corona, before all this, I really wanted to reinvent myself in college. I wanted to loosen up, talk to more people, not overthink every interaction. And some days, I feel like I’m even getting somewhere with that. But the fact remains that I came into this dumpster fire of a freshman year as someone pretty introverted, sometimes socially awkward, and generally not super talkative. It’s just as hard for me to reach out to someone now as it always has been, and the online format only makes it worse. If I’m being honest, I know I haven’t been trying as much as I could have been to make friends, but sometimes just the thought of it makes me exhausted. I’ve been thinking a lot about a post of Cami’s I read around this time last year. I am, for better or for worse, the same person I was in high school. But also, how could anything have changed, if I haven’t even been to college yet? And will the spring really be that different from this, with online classes and pods and no large gatherings?? If I think about it too long, I get so mad at corona.07 I do recognize that it’s a privilege to be mad at corona for hindering my social life, as opposed to something much worse

All this being said, I’ve done fine. Given what I know about myself, I’m pleased with the number and scope of the connections I’ve made. A particularly high point amid all of this has been my sorority, Sigma Kappa. I’d never thought of myself as a potential sorority girl,08 pretty much any sorority girl at MIT can say the same and yet I went through recruitment on a whim, in case I liked it. (I did.) Most of the friends I’ve made this semester have been through SK, and everyone I’ve met through it is so, so cool and amazing and *heart eyes emoji*. If all goes as planned, I’ll be podding with a couple of my sisters in the spring, so that’s a problem solved. Being on campus in the current situation won’t be the same as it should have been, or what I wanted for my freshman year. But it’ll be something, and it’ll be better, I guess. I’m excited to see how tall everyone is.

  1. like me! back to text
  2. we were allowed to staple with a group of up to eight people who we are guaranteed to be placed into the same dorm as. many people then plan to form a pod with these people in the spring back to text
  3. idk how to characterize levels of closeness okay back to text
  4. I know a lot of people who like to pset together over zoom, but it hasn’t really worked for me back to text
  5. avoidance is the best solution, amirite back to text
  6. but also, what do I know. I think most first years are struggling, and it’s just the rose-colored of social media that make it seem otherwise back to text
  7. I do recognize that it’s a privilege to be mad at corona for hindering my social life, as opposed to something much worse back to text
  8. pretty much any sorority girl at MIT can say the same back to text