Pandemic results in long-distance friendships virtually for students
In a time of virtual classes and socially distanced gatherings, friendships have moved to a more long-distanced format for UH students both on and off campus.
As some students choose online classes and stay home this semester in the midst of a pandemic, the only way to keep in touch with friends living on campus or in different cities is virtually.
Psychology sophomore N’Namdi Jelani lived on campus last year, but is staying home in Dallas this semester.
“Things are a bit different,” Jelani said. “But, me and my college friends still manage to keep in touch by calling and texting each other, which I am grateful for.”
Jelani said he is a social person, so the hardest part about not being able to interact with his friends in-person is there being something missing.
“For me, it’s (my friend’s) energy and presence,” Jelani said. “To not be around my friends … it definitely feels like I’m missing out, that we’re missing out.”
More online platforms have been becoming popular amongst college-age groups as social distancing has played a larger factor in their lives, like hosting Netflix watch parties or Zoom socials just to stay connected.
“I really hate that certain virtual platforms require payment to have longer conversations. It really prevents people from making stronger bonds,” said psychology senior Mariah Ochoa.
Ochoa is a mentor for the Commuter’s Assistant Program where they use virtual platforms often.
“Once a month, we hold official events with our mentees. Not to mention, some mentors get together and have small socials of their own. On top of that, mentors causally talk to their mentees,” Ochoa said. “I do this every day. I believe it is very helpful in staying connected, but nothing beats hanging out in person.”
Part of the hardest thing with going online is that the bonds between friends and mentees are strong, but they could be stronger, Ochoa said.
“Personally, the few friendship connections I have are very strong,” Ochoa said. “Before the pandemic, I feel like I would check-in and/or hang out with my friends more often. Now, I feel so distracted.”