8 People On How Their Social Lives Really Look Right Now
So as it turns out that, on top of COVID placing countless lives at risk, decimating economies, and wiping out all the toilet paper and Clorox wipes from shelves for months, this pandemic has also become a social experiment — and experience — of sorts.
As I scroll through Instagram, *in my Carrie Bradshaw voice* I can’t help but wonder, what does everyone’s life actually look like right now, nearly seven months into the new-normal? Social media is currently a weird confetti mix of #TBTs, candid no-makeup selfies with pets, solo hikes in the wilderness, and social distance-friendly dinners and outing with friends. Though some of my friends have found ways to safely resume their social lives, others have made it clear they’re continuing to self-quarantine.
But aside from leaving the occasional photographic breadcrumb for me to follow, I’m still not really sure how the majority of people are actually socializing these days. To be totally transparent, while I keep grocery shopping to a minimum (I do a lot of Instacart and Amazon buys these days) and stopped hugging my elderly parents back in March, I’ve only seen my friends a handful of times. Since I was working from home for six months prior to COVID-19, my social life had already taken a hit, but I made an effort to meet friends for drinks or dinner (omg, remember bars?), took my laptop to a WeWork to get work done with a coworker at least once a week, and certainly was very laissez-faire about family gatherings, which were frequent.
I know, even though I’m being as careful as possible, these are still risks, and they’re risks I’m willing to take in order to regain some kind of semblance of normalcy. Yet, I question myself all the time, wondering if I’m being an asshole, or if I’m being too cautious. It’s a weird time to navigate, and it feels like a lot of us are feeling isolated, unsure of what is going on outside of the walls of our own lives.
So, with that said, recently I asked several people what their own social life looks like now, 200+ days after being on lockdown. Here were their answers.
Honestly, my “social” life is mostly Twitter and Instagram these days, which is sad.
“My social life is basically non-existent these days. I feel like the shine of Zoom quickly faded after it became the majority of my workday, and the last thing I want to do at 6 PM is spend more time on video chat. I’ve done a handful of socially distant hangs with friends —sitting in the park, going for a walk, [and] always with our masks on—but honestly, my ‘social’ life is mostly Twitter and Instagram these days, which is sad. The only person I see regularly is my boyfriend, since we’ve both agreed to be each other’s “bubble.” But the creature I spend the most time with is my dog. Having her has been good for getting me out of the house and she’s definitely keeping me sane. I also recently moved, so my weekends and evenings have mostly been spent trying to figure out where the hell to put things.
“My dog has been keeping me sane.”
I’ve made an effort to send out letters and postcards to my friends lately, which feels a little more exciting and meaningful than a text. I just find myself really desperate for anything tangible lately, since our collective relationship with touch has changed so much in the past few months. Mail is nice for that — plus, we should all be doing our part to help save the USPS.
I will say it feels like people have suddenly gotten noticeably more lax with social distancing and seeing people in the last couple weeks. Sometimes I feel like I’m in an alternate universe – like I missed the memo that everything is safe now. To be fair, other places are doing a lot better than we are in California, but even here, it seems like a switch has been flipped. I don’t know. All that to say, maybe I’m being over-cautious!”
–Creative Professional, 29, LA
Compared to this time last year my social life has probably decreased by at least 85%
“Compared to this time last year my social life has probably decreased [by] 85% at least. It’s a massive drop off. I had a very small outdoor gathering for my birthday of about six people who I knew had been careful, and were socially distancing, and that was the most social I’ve gotten since the pandemic. I always see people post photos on Instagram of a bunch of girls seated at a tall table at in indoor restaurant, having brunch over a shared pitcher of sangria, and I’m like, this better be a #TBT from 2017.”
“I just find myself really desperate for anything tangible lately.”
I didn’t realize that regularly giving away my energy to people was draining me; in a way, I’m grateful for this shift.
“Prior to COVID, my world was abuzz with social plans multiple days a week. I was constantly shooting events and meeting friends at bars and restaurants. It felt rare to have a moment to myself but now that’s all I have and I’m grateful for the momentary pause to spend more time getting to know myself. Now if I see someone, it’s because I really want to connect and spend time with them. I didn’t realize that regularly giving my energy away to people I didn’t truly connect with in the past (for the sake of being social) was draining me. I see the impact now, and I’m much more discerning about who I give my time to, especially now [that] there’s an inherent risk. In a way, I’m grateful for this shift.”
–Kristina Bakrevski, 34, visual artist & astrologer in LA
I miss general human interaction, I can’t imagine going through this without an S.O. (significant other)
“Social life looks different. We are concert goers, trivia attendees, and generally ‘people-people.’ We aren’t doing meals out but we are doing takeout — mostly because we are sick of cooking and doing dishes. Our weekly game nights have turned into beach picnics which I’m really okay with keeping! I think I’m personally comfortable when activities are outside but I have no interest in sitting in a restaurant where my nerves would still be high.
What I do miss is general human interaction and I can’t imagine going through this process without an S.O. (significant other) at home. That’s part of why I joined Graze as Head of Marketing and Partnerships. If you had asked me prior to this if I would work in the dating space I would have said, ‘Never’ and to be honest. that’s still the answer. I don’t see Graze as a source of dating; I see it as modernization of online meeting. As a female, I love the safety aspect, I love the ability to have an integrated ‘safety check’ so you know without a shadow of a doubt, the profile and person match. The approach of making online dating experiential is exactly what [my company] does, and the opportunities for additional avenues are endless- networking, job interviews, group classes, game nights it all goes forward, COVID or not.”
–Laura Bishop, Head of Marketing & Partnerships, LA
It seems like everyone left New York City. I was one of the few who stayed in this ghost town.
“My social life has transformed because of the pandemic. I am a workaholic running my own public relations firm but I always like to make time for friends and clients (who are basically my friends now) to go out to dinner, visit a museum, or go for a walk in Central Park. When COVID-19 hit, it seems like everyone left New York City. I was one of the few who stayed in this ghost town through it all and that made it even more lonely.
I did find ways to keep in touch with friends, whether it be FaceTime or long phone chats during which I went for a walk after, for a break from my stuck-at-home-inside-all-day [ways]. I think now that things are starting to open up again in New York City and everyone has become used to the new=normal with masks and social distancing, it has become easier to be social again. Dinners al fresco have returned, days at the museums are back in the picture (with long waiting times but still better than nothing), and [I’m] able to see my friends and family in person. We are nowhere close to being done with the pandemic but at least we have come to the realization that being social can happen through it all, including a pandemic. ”
–Jesse Kent, CEO of Derring-Do, Inc., NYC
“I feel like the shine of Zoom quickly faded after it became the majority of my workday.”
It was a lonely & scary time but as months passed, we all became more comfortable with the precautions in place.
“Life hasn’t been all that different for us (especially relative to the rest of the world). I work from home, and my husband does jobs locally, typically in remote, outdoor locations, though he does have to wear a mask at electrical supply stores, etc. So that is a change. Socially, we have a small group of people we see on a regular basis, and that hasn’t changed since the pandemic started.
Living out in the country, we don’t see many people or go to bars/restaurants all that much anyway. The times we have gotten together with friends or family, we have mainly been outdoors, but not wearing masks. Almost every weekend this summer was spent on a boat with a small group of friends. The biggest change was having to cancel our tropical vacation and replace it with a road trip. In the beginning, when panic was at its peak, we avoided our parents and elderly friends and relatives, except to set groceries on their doorstep. It was a lonely and scary time, especially not feeling safe to visit my parents, but as more time passed, we all became more comfortable with getting together as long as precautions were taken (no hugs/touching, 6 feet apart, etc.).”
–Carrie Kostiha, 30, Texas
I am part of a germaphobic household and we are still quarantining like it is March.
“The weird thing about my friendships during COVID-19 is that people have split into two camps — the ones who will go to restaurants and the ones who won’t. Any of my friends who are teachers or grocery store workers don’t mind meeting for a beer because their job already exposes them so much, so going to a restaurant where everyone has to stay at their spaced out tables [actually] seems low risk to them. My other friends who can work or [attend] school from home are not into going to restaurants [but] they are more than willing to have a zoom happy hour though.
I am one of the people who does not go to restaurants or even grocery stores. I’m getting more and more used to telling people, ‘I am part of a germaphobic household and we are still quarantining like it is March.’ Sometimes I feel embarrassed like I am wearing my political affiliation on my sleeve or like other people will think I am judging them for going out to restaurants. I really don’t think less of people for doing that but for my own anxious, precarious sanity I had to say no.” -Holly, Colorado
I still feel like I need to be polite, even during the end of the world
“My boyfriend has asthma and I am the daughter of two medical professionals. On top of that, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so I’ve been mostly staying inside. Being social for me now means waving to cars when they pass me on my daily walks and occasionally fitting in some banter with a Starbucks barista if I brave the line at the drive-thru. Weirdly, I miss small talk a whole lot; I used to wander through Target striking up conversations about cute but useless cookware or like, ‘Do these pants go with this shirt?’ kind of stuff. Those were the days! Luckily, my quarantine sabbatical from society has brought one blessing: I’m getting so good at talking on the phone again!
“Weirdly, I miss small talk a whole lot; but I’m getting good at talking on the phone again!”
Last weekend I talked to my middle school best friend for over two hours and it was marvelous. Business meetings are short and sweet when they are a phone call. I miss the free coffee and the eye contact [that comes with being at the office], but I don’t miss the traffic and the parking. Oh, one last thing – I’ve been quarantined with my boyfriend and his mom and we’ve reached the point of spending so much time together we’re starting to repeat stories. Sometimes, I interrupt [them] and remind them they told that one already, but most times I smile and nod. I guess I still feel like I need to be polite, even during the end of the world.”
–Christina Wolfgram, LA/New Mexico
Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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