In light of the Coronavirus outbreak in mid-March of 2020, Punahou students have been using social media more often to pass the downtime spent at home and make up for the lack of in-person interactions. However, for many, their time spent in quarantine has also caused them to evaluate the role of social media in their lives.
Prior to the shutdown in March, most students used social media platforms (such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Tiktok) to broadcast important aspects of their life and stay updated with others’ lives as well.
While these motives still hold true today, the sudden change in lifestyle provided students with more time to think about the importance of social media, which prompted a flip in perspective.
Jacie Higa ‘21 spent the much of the duration of quarantine reflecting on how she uses social media, especially in context with the global pandemic. “With everything going on in the world, I was more so not wanting to share my own personal life,” she shared. “Apps like Instagram felt more insignificant at some point.”
Similarly, Sydney Aoki ‘21 challenged herself to take a step back from posting. “It’s more important to just be in the moment and take pictures for memories’ sake, rather than with the intentions of posting,” she said.
Even with students’ newfound awareness, most are quick to acknowledge that social media has been a source of light during this time of uncertainty.
“Through social media, students are more able to connect with their peers and maintain groups of friends,” said Lisa Stewart, Class of 2021 Dean.
The student body validated Mrs. Stewart’s statement, especially following the death of George Floyd and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in May. Many students shifted the use of their platforms to inform others and share their own voices on current events and issues.
“When I read something interesting or see a thread about an important issue or view, I like to post it because it’s something I learned and think it would be important for others to learn too,” shared Maisie Klem ‘21. “I hope that my posts will stimulate conversations and broaden people’s perspectives.”
Through her Instagram stories, Klem has been a prominent advocate for many social causes and continues to inspire many students, such as Emma Nitao ‘21.
“I’ve gotten more interested in being informed and knowing what’s happening in the world, especially since now is such a pivotal time with the elections, Coronavirus, and Black Lives Matter,” said Nitao. “I noticed a lot more people are starting to use social media as a positive outlet.”
For Higa and Aoki, their changed mindsets toward social media led them to explore different platforms and uncover new interests.
“Nowadays, most of my social media involves Spotify. I realized how much I like finding new music and making playlists,” Higa stated. “I would say it’s a form of self expression for me.”
Aoki developed a love for K-Pop during quarantine, which led her to use Twitter frequently. “I get to interact with a lot more people now,” she said. “I like how the tweets feel more authentic compared to Instagram or Snapchat.”
Despite their varying uses and perspectives, the students agree that it’s more important than ever to be mindful of their contributions and takeaways from the online community, while also taking the time to maintain a healthy balance.
“I think there tends to be a lot of overstimulation, so social media definitely needs to be used in moderation,” said Klem. “If you use it correctly and in a smart way, it can be the jumping off point for learning about certain issues and connecting with others.”