This past year has been nothing short of a disaster for many people, but working, learning, and socializing through our computer screens has produced a few silver linings that we’d want to stick around.

Our entire lives are now operational predominantly through our computer screens. We attend lectures, office hours, labs, and study sessions through Zoom. We may work remotely for a job, internship, or club, and many of us transitioned to having happy hours, themed parties, or casual hangouts through any avenue of facial video communication like Facetime, Skype, or Google Meet.

This transition of our livelihoods has undoubtedly ruptured our accustomed levels of social interaction with other humans in person, and New York has seen an increase in mental health struggles of its citizens due to the pandemic.

However, we do acknowledge the unintentional benefits reaped by students in this online world.

  1. Professors, TAs, and Deans are extra supportive and understanding of student situations.
    While it is somewhat disheartening to think that it took a global pandemic for those in positions of academic authority to show more sympathy towards students, we’re grateful that the sympathy is overflowing now. University faculty demonstrating exceptional levels of human compassion across the past year is something we hope becomes standard.
  2. It’s easier to make up a missed class.
    In the Before Times, missing one single lecture or seminar meant scrambling to catch up with the content and begging your peers for notes. Being able to watch a recording of an entire class greatly reduces the stress of making up an absence. We’re not proposing recording every in-person class, but we would appreciate it if the ease of staying on pace with course content even after being absent would continue into the post-pandemic world.
  3. Working hours are more flexible.
    Whether you’re doing work for a job or internship, meeting with a club, or studying with a classmate, the online world makes working at 10:00 pm on a Tuesday much more feasible. The flexibility in work hours provides a creative solution for those who function with greater capacity late at night or early in the morning. In the online world, the 8:00 am to 5:00 pm workday loosens its grip on the confines of productivity. Perhaps employers, club leaders, and fellow scholars will continue to have the mentality that working at any time of day is viable even after life returns to an in-person mode.
  4. Socializing now is a win for those with social anxiety.
    This bonus definitely won’t align with everyone’s view of positive and negative outcomes of existing in the online world, but homebodies and those with social anxiety can more easily thrive in this digital world. Being able to have contact with friends in a casual, online setting while avoiding the chaos of the world has served to be an unintentionally comforting solution for those who would rather stay in. On behalf of the self-identifying homebodies and those who have social anxiety, this option of socialization will ideally continue into our post-pandemic future.
  5. Checking in with friends is now the norm.
    If the past year has taught us anything, it is that human relation and connection are essential to thriving in this world. Because of how truly transformative and sometimes devastatingly impactful 2020 was, old friends, acquaintances, and lovers reached out just to “check in.” This aspect of the pandemic worked in tandem with the rise in sympathy. The reality that life is very challenging for many people faced us all, and hopefully checking in on the wellbeing of all characters in your life—new and old—continues to occur.

online community via Wikimedia Commons