Students Unite Through Blogging and Instagram


Sophia Zanussi, Maroon-News Staff

As the terms “shelter-in-place,” “quarantine” and “social distancing” flood the internet through news sources and social media, it is nearly impossible to momentarily forget the new reality of living in a world where human agency is compromised by the danger of a virus. Although some have reacted more strongly than others to the concern of contracting COVID-19 coupled with the new restrictions that demand a lifestyle change for most, all have practiced some form of coping. For many, coping has been expressed through creative outlets such as blogging or posting to forms of social media as a means of sharing ideas, creations and building a sense of community.

While states continue to extend shelter-in-place and quarantine orders, many users of social media have admitted to turning to food as a mode of passing the time or quelling anxiety. Some, like senior Ayah Elarabi, have used cooking and eating as a mode of updating her friends on her everyday life by posting pictures of her meals on a food-centered Instagram account.

24 hours after being home, I realized that I was turning to food whenever I was bored—which is pretty often when you’re in quarantine—and that’s what led me to start the food Instagram. One of my friends said that Instagram had inspired her to try new foods! It’s a fun way to keep in contact and learn about each other’s home lives in some small sense,” Elarabi said. 

Other Colgate students such as senior Elle O’Brien and junior Natasha Nath have similarly fostered community through blogging. Although O’Brien has been blogging about her own struggles with mental health as well as the topics of healing and hope for three years, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic she has specifically explored how the mental health of her community has been impacted by the virus. By making Instagram polls asking others about how they feel on a day-to-day basis and what they smiled about in quarantine, O’Brien has gathered data from her community to include in her posts.

“While we are living right now alone or with only a few people, it can feel lonely sometimes and I find myself wondering how other people are holding up, how other people are spending their time. I saw in these polls that other people also feel anxious and confused right now, I saw that other people are missing things right now. I also saw that people are hopeful, some people feel inspired. Ultimately, I just want us to be able to walk through this together and to show up for each other and this was one way I thought of to use my own social media to work on that,” O’Brien said. 

Like O’Brien, Nath began blogging as an effort to speak to her community and educate others about COVID-19.

 “I personally know many people with weakened immune and respiratory systems who are vulnerable targets for this virus. So, I wanted to do anything I could to connect with those who did not quite have a strong grasp of how deadly this virus could be. I extended this platform to not only share my personal experiences, but to share the experiences of those whose voices have been wounded from this virus,” said Nath, “I hope that, in the future, this can also be something that people can look back to, to remember these difficult times, to appreciate the people who are putting their lives on the line to save others, to learn from the mistakes that were made in containing the virus, and to be encouraged from the strength of our communities in coming together.”  

Though Elarabi, O’Brien and Nath have focused their Instagramming and blogging on different topics, all three students express the importance of community support and communication during this trying time—values that have been considered paramount by the Colgate community while both on and off-campus.