Putting COVID-19 in perspective

Greta McLaughlin, R1 Editor-In-Chief

Prom. Graduation. The last moments you have left with the people you have grown up with. All across social media, teenagers, as well as many of their parents, are contributing to an endless stream of posts about how much they are missing due to COVID-19 and social distancing measures. Whether it be a TikTok about how terrible it is that we are losing key pillars of our childhoods or a tweet about how our high school careers may have ended on a random Friday in March, they all seem to have the same message: this sucks, and I’m not ashamed of complaining about it.

On the other side of social media, users are posting tributes for those who have lost their lives to COVID-19, and doctors and nurses are detailing their battles through 24-hour shifts. 

These contrasting positions have caused many upset teenagers to face heat online for their posts, with people calling them tone-deaf and urging them to think about the greater issues going on in the world right now.

The truth is, all of these sentiments of teenage pain and loss are completely legitimate. It is normal and okay to feel upset over being deprived of experiences that many of us have been looking forward to for our entire lives. They are hallmarks of adolescence and have been talked about in movies, television, books and magazines for a long time.

For me, I have always imagined myself walking across the stage at graduation after years of laboring over schoolwork. It would have made the late nights and stress feel worthwhile, and, perhaps more importantly, it would have been a way for me to close this chapter of the past 17 years of my life and move on. Now, I fear that I will never get the chance to truly say goodbye to my final years of childhood, at least in a traditional sense.

However, we cannot look at these losses in the same light as those who have suffered immense pain from losing a loved one or are risking their lives every day in order to save the sick. By posting on social media about how awful their own realities are, teenagers are doing just that. It is almost as if they are saying that their issues are equal to those of people who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Even if their intent is not malicious, it does not cause the posts to be interpreted any better.

There is so much more at stake than the possibility that we may never be able to don a cap and gown with our childhood friends, and, simply put, it is insensitive to post on social media about how much we are missing.

COVID-19 is terrible for everyone involved, and my goal is not to make fundamental high school moments seem like nothing. Of course, we are all hurting, and the virus is going to affect us for a long time, even after it has been suppressed. However, next time you post, think a little bit more about how your feelings are somewhat trivial in the face of the larger issues going on.