Everyone can admit it — these last few days have felt like a science fiction apocalypse, with schools dropping like flies and states of emergency being announced in different cities on a daily basis. Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has prohibited events or gatherings of 50 or more people in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, and President Donald Trump has issued a statement saying no groups of 10 or more should meet, both of which are efforts to practice extreme social distancing. Even closer to home, Binghamton has implemented a serious curfew between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the wake of Broome County’s first confirmed case of the virus.
This has put a serious halt to all Binghamton University events, including lucrative charity events such as BU Dance Marathon, and smaller student gatherings like International Coffee Hour and Open Mic Night. Now, of course, this may be seen as a good idea, since limiting the assembly of large groups prevents the spread of a dangerous disease, but events like these are needed in a calamity such as this. As the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, takes over our world, we tend to focus on the bigger pictures, like quarantines, barricaded borders and the tragedies of lives lost across the globe. But it is also important and even necessary in times like these to pay attention to the details and the smaller setbacks for us to stay sane. As this pandemic spreads, we are in need of something unifying and peaceful. We need something to keep our minds off the feeling that the world we know is collapsing around us. With classes being canceled and dozens of people going home every day, we need some form of stability.
As campus starts to clear and people move back to their homes and take shelter with their families, people who are sticking around have begun to feel isolated and disconnected from society. Especially with classes all going online and the overwhelming fear of catching the virus, it will not be uncommon for people to hole themselves in their rooms, locked away from the rest of humanity. This mentality can be extremely damaging to one’s emotional state, especially with the pressure of everything that is happening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is important to maintain relationships and stay connected with others during this difficult time. In other words, in order to be a fully functioning, healthy person during this pandemic, it’s important to not only wash your hands, but also spend time with your friends. With every club meeting canceled and all social events put on hold, how are students supposed to maintain a healthy balance of school and social life? It is proven that students with more social interaction and strong friendships tend to do better in school, and although COVID-19 is scary, we shouldn’t jeopardize people’s relationships in fear of it.
The best way to do this is to find alternatives to what we might normally do in our day-to-day. Consider spending time with friends in small groups or even one-on-one. Participate in activities that require little physical contact like going for a walk or watching a movie. If this isn’t enough, there are still plenty of ways to satisfy one’s social desires from the safety of your dorm. The Netflix Party Chrome extension provides a fun and free way to watch movies with your friends at times like these. Play online video games or make meals together through FaceTime. Clubs can hold online meetings, where they can discuss important topics and maintain bonds. It’s important to stay safe, but we can’t dismantle our whole lives in fear. Staying social and connected is the best way to fight this pandemic.
On the other hand, we must take precautions to prevent the spread of disease. Washing your hands, cleaning surfaces, staying home when sick and avoiding touching your face is extremely important for protecting yourself and others. But we still must act like humans. Humans are naturally social creatures, which means that interaction with other humans is important to our health and survival. By all means, practice social distancing, but don’t distance yourself from all of society.
Nicolette Cavallaro is a freshman majoring in integrative neuroscience.