Nostalgia for Face-to-Face Revives Childhood Internet Platforms


Rose Corcoran, Maroon-News Staff

Although we may not be allowed to touch—or even be within six feet of—each other, Colgate students have been able to keep in touch with our new Zoom classrooms. Additionally, we have been able to tap into childhood modes of communication from when landlines and virtual reality connected us before smartphones. Even if students cannot be together in dorms, classes or in Hamilton, they can at the very least be together virtually, either as themselves or as online characters. 

Many students have found themselves logging onto their beloved favorites like Club Penguin, all looking for some way to communicate and fill our quarantine boredom with something beyond the standard text or FaceTime. 

“It’s so fun being able to go on websites like Club Penguin and back into my childhood with all of my friends. We can just be nostalgic and goofy together and distract each other for a while to keep us close while we’re all scattered across the world,” sophomore Olivia Geppel said

In addition to Club Penguin, Sims is the most “lifelike” of these digitized worlds in which social distancing has spurred some to create virtual versions of themselves to live out the lives made impossible by the pandemic. Sims can go to each others’ houses, go to bars, take walks in the park, host parties and do every activity that social distancing seeks to prevent. Animal Crossing, a simulation game like the Sims, has also risen in popularity because of social distancing. Even the Webkinz website, which brings plush pets to life, has morphed into an online social venue that allows users to relive their younger years. 

People have also utilized Zoom beyond academic purposes to host family dinners among separated relatives, share a friends’ happy hour or simply enjoy talking with and seeing each other in real-time. Zoom even allows users to change their backgrounds and use extensions like Snap Camera to bring in some perks to our forced online interactions. Political director for a Latinx and the progressive organization People for the American Way Lizet Ocampo used one of these filters and accidentally turned herself into a potato onscreen and could not figure out how to fix it, and remained a potato for the entirety of her meeting. Her comedic mishap went viral, shedding light on the hilarious workplace issues that are now office problems in our new reality. Google has also proved its strength as a platform for interpersonal connections as friends, families and coworkers use the many components of Google Suite to email, call and video chat. Roommates have even taken to sharing Google Slides presentations of their lives to keep each other regularly updated. 

The resurgence of so many online modes of communication is a testament to human nature. Social distancing means physically distancing, but not necessarily emotionally distancing. Loved ones, at least for now, remain at arm’s length, but are just a call, text, Sims meet-up, Zoom meeting or Google Hangout away. This may be an uncertain time, but it is through the little comforts like reviving a childhood username or seeing a friend’s face pop up on the screen that make all of this a bit more bearable.