The Forgotten Art of Connecting

The spring semester is often marked with new classes, familiar faces, and the same coursework.
Generally speaking, I did well making new friends from my classes last semester. Those I developed a deeper relationship with, I kept in touch with over winter break. Nonetheless, I lost touch with those whom I was merely acquainted.

You would think that in today’s day and age, technology should make fostering relationships easier. In actuality, I blame social media and instant messaging for the increased difficulty of connecting with others in person.

The rise of social media over the last couple of decades has led most college students to have at least one social media account and access to a smartphone or cell phone. The advent of social media and phones has created the means for instant communication, thus reducing the need for in-person interaction. Like some people my age, I find it easier to send a message than talk face-to-face— especially if the message is something I am nervous communicating to the person.

When I was younger, I wrote letters to express my feelings. Sometimes it’s easier to write down what you want to say and have someone read it thoroughly. There were even a few instances when I wrote letters to my parents because I was too scared to say it to them aloud. It’s easier to hide behind written words.
We are wired to long after social connections as communal creatures who rely on one another to survive.

Without farmers, we don’t have food. Without teachers, we cannot learn. Without doctors, we have no treatment. The pandemic disrupted this structure, and we had to adapt to socialization via technology.

When restrictions were lifted and students returned to campus, I was uneasy to start up those physical interactions again. For almost two years, I adjusted to communicating through social media, text messages, and video chatting. It was easier to comment on someone’s social media post or send a SpongeBob meme to respond to someone than using spoken words. Coming out of the pandemic was like having to rewire our brains to how they were.

Nevertheless, upon deciding on a creative writing major and pushing myself to engage with my community, I was able to ease back into normal again. As a full-time student, I am taking 15 credits this semester and come to campus five days a week, which allows me to spend time with friends between classes. Speaking of friends, most of the people I meet I have shared interests in as we take the same variety of English classes.

For example, I am taking “EN 384: Language and Community” this semester with Dr. Courtney Werner. On the first day of class, she had us go around the room and share our names and our favorite food. Then, on the second day of class, she had us say our names and then repeat the names of the students before us. It helped us remember each other’s names in a fun way. I wouldn’t have had this kind of experience if the class was offered virtually.

I missed what it was like to meet people and interact with people in person. While it may have felt like connecting without technology was a thing of the past, there are things we can all do to socialize face-to-face, thereby making our college experience more enjoyable.

My little piece of advice—put your phones down and make connections.